Stornowayâ€™s sound is vaguely reminiscent of Belle & Sebastian. It fits in well among a crowd of like-minded imitators of inoffensive, soft-sung indie folk, which is to say, Stornoway offers little in terms of innovation or of a resounding quality that defines them.
An erudite band comprised of British natives who got together while studying subjects like ornithology and Russian translation at Oxford, Stornoway is safely definable as â€œIndie Folk.â€ (Even their charmingly quaint university degrees earn the title.)
On their new album, Beachcomberâ€™s Windowsill, vaguely hymnal melodies blend with perfunctorily plucked banjos and gentle guitar strums. The songs are pleasant, appropriate background music, just fine for a shuffling playlist of folksy tunes. But alone, the album stands on unremarkable legs.
Windowsill does have its moments though. â€œThe Coldharbour Roadâ€ exemplifies uncontrived metaphors of heartache with the lyrics: â€œI am a small town, you are a tornado/And down the high street you tear into me / Bring down the power lines and you twist the heart right out of me/Leaving my outskirts devastated.â€ Â The song â€œOn the Rocksâ€ hints at a trenchant post-rock sound, with complex, restrained layers that subtly crescendoâ€”but itâ€™s an exception to the rule, dormant through most of the album.
Stornowayâ€™s debut album has its charm and intrigue, but falls short in distinguishing itself in an overflowing genre. Beachcomberâ€™s Windowsill plays nice with similar styles for those looking to accumulate more of the same.Â But if youâ€™re looking for something remarkable, move along.