The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday June 6th

Brit Band Leaps Onto American Music Scene

love is here

Often called Britain's next big thing, alternative rock band Starsailor reached its homeland's Top 10 with its single "Alcoholic." Almost six months later the group is releasing its popular album in the States -- indeed, love is here.

Taking its name from a Tim Buckley LP, Starsailor amalgamates turbulent rock with mellow grooves and bittersweet, insightful lyrics. Its original hit single is a dark, ballad-esque look into the life of a child of an alcoholic. Depressing yet powerful, the song stands apart from the rest of the album's generally high-spirited attitude.

It's the kind of song that isn't really surprising to come out of one of the world's best hosts to pubs and pints but nonetheless is far from exhibiting Starsailor's vocalist at his best.

Frontman James Walsh boasts a voice similar to countryman and counterpart Royson Langdon of Spacehog, but with a richer, more expressive sound. Think of a clearly audible, carefully enunciated Thom Yorke.

Walsh shines on the slow, contemplative tune "Fever." Carrying a soulful blues tint alongside bandmates Barry Westhead on electric piano, Ben Byrne on drums and James Stelfox on bass, Walsh tells a bittersweet tale of lost love figuratively staring back at you from the face of society.

"I, I must have been blind/To carry your torch for most of my life/These days I'm hanging around/You're out of my heart/And out of my town," he sings.

On the album's title track, the band locks into a mellow jazz rock beat as Walsh implores listeners to follow their commandments (thou shall not covet thy neighbors wife) and love what they already have. Not too shabby advice from a soon to be rock star.

But Walsh has more than a nice set of vocal pipes. He also proves himself a talented guitar player throughout the entire album. "Good Souls," Starsailor's second UK single, makes a stand as the album's best outright rock song and features Walsh in full electric effect.

Walsh goes on to meld his talents on love is here's only solo, acoustic song "Coming Down." A stunning display of Starsailor's Radiohead-type prospects, "Coming Down" is a warbling, beautiful exit to the album that allows Walsh to firmly assert his chops.

Starsailor has been selling out concerts on the far side of the Atlantic, and it wouldn't be too much of a surprise if it does the same in the United States when it begins touring next year. Backed by genuine talent and having established a clearly defined musical identity, Starsailor can confidently say that love is here to stay.

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