Starling - Public Service
2009, Magpie Recordings
Starling is a UK quartet brought together by their mutual love of music and the written word. Born in 2008, the band has already owned such stages as London's Water Rats and Dublin Castle. Starling has also graced American stages this year in support of their debut album, Public Service.
Public Service opens with "Be Someone", a highly melodic tune layered with sounds that turns into a big pop tune with soft edges. Sonically interesting, "Be Someone" is an apt introduction to vocalist Daniel James, who is trying to play the role of crooner, is a Moody Blues-influenced blend of modern pop. This juxtaposition works but not without a certain amount of tension. "The Simple Life" is aptly simplistic with a mildly catchy arrangement. "How Do You Change" questions an age old wisdom, wondering how changing the world for one person changes the world-at-large. It's a solid bit of songwriting although the premise and lyrical flow seem a bit out of focus. The focus wanes through the middle of the album, with Starling making a turn for the better with "Story Of My Life". If there's a moderate pop hit on the album, "Story Of My Life" is it. Starling digs in with a 1980's guitar-pop sound with a memorable melody and a dynamic hook. "Taking A Break" has a transitive 1980's pop edge, and is the best-written song on the album. Starling works real energy through the verses, building into a powerful, melodic chorus that will be what you most remember about the album. Public Service closes with "Long Way From Home", a mellow closer that sounds like it should be a closing track but seems like it may have been written as part of a formula rather than from the heart.
Starling gives fair effort on Public Service, an enjoyable if somewhat uneven experience. Starling shows real songwriting potential at times, but you may be left with the impression that Starling threw together a few of the songs offered here more for the sake of filling out an album than anything else. There's nothing on Public Service that's bad; it's just clear that there were two very different levels of creativity at work at various points throughout the album; an occasion when a shorter EP concentrated with the band's best material would have left a stronger overall impression. Nevertheless, there's enough good in Public Service to ensure that at least some listeners will want to hear what else Starling has up their sleeve.
Rating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Starling at www.starlingband.co.uk or www.facebook.com/starlingband. Public Service is available digitally from both Amazon.com and iTunes.