These days hotly tipped folk groups are regular to the point of redundancy. Plaid clad middle class boys with junior stubble and a bit of rustic reverence seem as commonplace as the World Cup vuvuzela. Against this backdrop, emerges Beachcomber’s Windowsill, an album that surpasses its creators’ constraints.
With a name inspired by the BBC Shipping Forecast and songs about rolling down hills (-Zorbing’), Stornoway are very much the definition of quaint England. As a result, despite there being much to like about the band’s debut, it’s a record not without twee trappings.
The banjo led -We Are The Battery Human’, sees singer Brian Briggs toss off phrases painfully green as ‘We’ve got the whole world in our hands’ and ‘We were born to be free range’. While -Here Comes The Blackout, with its earnest call to ‘learn to love your neighbour’, serves as a naive attempt at addressing race relations in BNP swamped Britain.
For the most part however, Beachcomber’s Windowsill is as satisfying a folk album as you will hear all year. Opener -Zorbing’, skips along with the fey abandon of early Belle & Sebastian – it’s mixture of mariachi trumpet and heartbeat bass too joyous to resist. -Fuel Up’ meanwhile has enough crossover potential for the modern day hit parade – Brigg’s conjuring up a story of youth and ageing universal as the Beatles -Yesterday’.
There’s also enough light and shade in the Stornoway sound to keep things interesting. Penultimate track -The End Of A Movie’ makes excellent use of cello and theremin, bringing proceedings to a suitably credit-rolling hush. Similarly closing track -Long Distance Lullaby’ builds to its inevitable crescendo with the full-voiced vigour needed for a lasting impression.
Stornoway’s future looks bright. If not destined for the irritating ubiquity of Mumford & Sons, they’ve certainly made a valiant attempt at the pop chart peripheries. A record that sees subtle surprises overcome obvious flaws, -Beachcomber’s Windowsill’ may very well be with us once the vuzvuzela has ceased.