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Starsailor - All The Plans

Starsailor, All The Plans

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

STARSAILOR have long been a band who flatter to deceive. Every time you think they’ve got it right, and lived up to their initial hype, they go and fluff the script.

In 2001, following the release of breakthrough hit Good Souls they were tipped to be another of Britain’s richest bands, but the album Love Is Here struggled to find the support, or maintain the quality, its lead track suggested the band were capable of.

Since then, singles have come and gone (such as Silence Is Easy)… and some have impressed. But the albums tend to suffer from indifference.

And here we are again, with All The Plans pre-empted by the brilliant Tell Me It’s Not Over, a rousing mix of piano and guitar (some of it from Rolling Stones’ legend Ronnie Wood), that threatened to usher in a bold new era.

Sadly, the remainder of the album suffers from what we’ll call “Starsailor syndrome”. That’s to say, a proliferation of well-meaning, worthy, but dull songs that aren’t helped by James Walsh’s pained vocals.

Songs like Hurts Too Much and All The Plans are two cases in point… earnest but pained. All The Plans begins with the lyric “you were on the left, with anger in your heart, I was on the right, to paranoid to start” and proceeds to deliver another depressing tale of missed opportunity and heartbreak. Hurts Too Much, meanwhile, offers “we all get burned sometimes” as an opening refrain.

There are good songs on the album, but it’s not the second coming that Tell Me It’s Not Over suggests they were about to deliver.

Stars And Stripes, for instance, is more direct, more rousing and takes a nice pop at America, Listen Up has a raggedy, rythmn and blues stomp that drops a nice back-beat and piano interludes, Boy In Waiting is sharp at two and a half minutes and cuts to the chase pretty quickly, and The Thames contains a rousing rhythm section in spite of more downbeat lyrics on whether love is just a big mistake, or “a means to an end”.

But even then, some of the better offerings fail to match the inspirational quality of that album opener.

Final track Safe At Home draws things to a stark, sombre close, and even features one of the more impressive vocal performances from Walsh, whose lamentful drool reminded me of Johnny Cash (strangely). It’s another of the album’s highlights, and a nice book-end with Tell Me It’s Not Over. It’s just a shame that so much of what comes in between, well, underwhelms as usual.

Download picks: Tell Me It’s Not Over, The Thames, Stars And Stripes, Safe At Home

Track listing:

  1. Tell Me It’s Not Over
  2. Boy In Waiting
  3. Thames, The
  4. All The Plans
  5. Neon Sky
  6. You Never Get What You Deserve
  7. Hurts Too Much
  8. Stars And Stripes
  9. Change My Mind
  10. Listen Up
  11. Safe At Home