For many people this debut will have been a long time coming. What it delivers is basically Stornoway's live sound, which is probably what most of us were hoping for - a band like this don't need studio trickery.
Frontman Brian may share an Oxford education with the rest of the band, but his lyrics and vocals have such a simple beauty that you can't help but think the world would be a rather more decent place if someone were to do the honourable thing and appoint him as its king. Oliver's bass playing is hugely melodic (and a source of some not inconsiderable personal jealousy) and Jon seems to have the knack of just absolutely nailing his parts on whatever instrument he chooses.
What I find odd in the other reviews I've read is that they seem to concentrate on "Zorbing" and "We Are the Battery Human". Personally I find Zorbing to be a little too close to Dragon's Den's Hamfatter for comfort, though it's still a good song, and whilst We Are the Battery Human is an excellent concept and a first listen novelty it soons become eminently skippable. I just don't understand how a song of the magnitude of "Fuel Up" seems to have escaped many people's attention. It has the most wonderful lyrics that will reach out to an awful lot of people and an arrangement to die for, with Jon's organ playing and Ollie's bass underpinning the whole song beautifully. "End of the Movie" is a similarly gorgeous piece of work, the piano part on "Coldharbour Road" evokes the ocean in a way I can't even begin to understand (although Brian's voice suffers from being slightly buried in the mix) and "Boats and Trains" is just a very sweet little song. Of the more upbeat tracks "I Saw You Blink" is simplistic, but a grower that seeps it's way into your brain (it also has the unfortunate distinction of having a pretty terrible video, notwithstanding budget limitations!) and "Watching Birds" hints at a rockier direction they could easily take if the fancy took them.
In essence, this is an excellent debut, leaving a warm glow that brightens your days and fills you with a sense of optimism. The whole is not quite perfect but there's an ample amount of perfection within to more than justifies five stars. They're the kind of band who can make you reconsider the type of band you'd like to be in yourself. That said, their music won't be to everyone's tastes - when I had it on my car stereo my friend thought it "sounded like Clannad" and generally took the Michael...
This cd will look rather nice on your shelf as the cardboard cover is beautifully illustrated - and it will certainly always have a place on my shelf. Let's just hope its release doesn't get overshadowed by the pleasant but rather less imaginative Mumford and Sons album. I know which I'd rather spend my money on.