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Monday, September 25, 2023


Sophomore attempt isn’t too terra-ble

By Zachary Burton

Stornoway, a four-piece band from Oxford, England, who is named after a tiny Scottish town, released its thematic work, “Tales from Terra Firma,” on March 11.

The album is the band’s sophomore effort and is a remarkable, considering that it was recorded in the bassist’s parents’ garage.

“Tales” wastes no time with enthralling listeners. The first track, “You Take Me as I Am” is immediately upbeat and doesn’t bother with build-ups or slow starts. The song has an incredibly happy feeling to it and lovey-dovey lyrics worth every wretch.

Oddly enough, these lyrics are entirely appropriate, as it is the beginning of a concept — more a theme, really — telling the tale of an adventurer’s journey through a foreign land. The first track is his wedding and honeymoon before the departure. This song is the exception and not the rule though, as from here, the band attempts to tackle the trying task of telling a story while relating to real life.

“Knock Me on My Head” is the first single from the album and does the band justice in correctly summarizing their sound. The track encompasses the vast instrumentation in the oriental-sounding beginnings that — no quicker than it started — return to the orchestral-pop sound that defines the band. Half-way through, the band chose to incorporate a “solo” on Bavarian spoons, two spoons stuck together. It’s quirks like these that define Stornoway. The resemblance to the works of Villagers or Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground are undeniable.

The majority of the album was written by bassist and multi-instrumentalist Oli Steadman. The band leaves no instrument out like some kind of hoarder, as every voice and tone comprehensible resides in this work. It’s not a bad thing, though; the music is masterfully written.

Each timbre shapes the music beautifully, fitting snuggly in with the crooning of lead vocalist Brian Biggs or filling up the space he leaves out.

Unfortunately, amongst the myriad of instruments, textures and baffling lyrics, the band fails to
truly hit with any one song, as nothing caught me as memorable beyond the opening track.

Complexity over catchy is the motif in this work.


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