"If we get it wrong, they'll feed us to the sharks" is just one of a clutch of siege-mentality lyrics from Silence Is Easy
, Starsailor's second album and an item eagerly awaited by cursing press sceptics. For all the soul-baring candidness--"You don't even know me, so why do you hate me?" avers the title track--doubters may still not be entirely inclined to feel sympathetic, especially as the band's fretful (and some say conservative) rock-soul template has barely altered since their debut
, and because singer James Walsh would still have us believe he is a walking hair shirt of torment. Sin, spiritual blindness, God-given grace, the biophysical symptoms of emotional turbulence and stuff like "My wandering soul found solace at last" all figure prominently in Walsh's lyrics, as if Starsailor are his personal sacrament of penance, his confession booth through which he must seek absolution.
But what about the tunes? The felicitous numbers mark a break from the past and consolidate on Starsailor's previous successes. "Bring Me Love" is all unfettered gaiety; not only is it delirious with strings of the pizzicato and soaring variety, it's also enlivened with happy chatter about ringing bells, moons and meadows and is only a couple of skipping milkmaids short of passing off as an old English folk song about courtship. Oddly, it really does sound like Echo and the Bunnymen on Prozac. "Four to the Floor", meanwhile, is the most celebratory thing Starsailor have ever put their name to. With its funky groove, Louis Clark-style disco string arrangements, bongos and lashings of mirror-ball cheese it even has the audacity to come out with a line as methodical as "I was sure she would be my girl" and get away with it. As has been highly publicised, reclusive production genius Phil Spector adds polish to two songs, while John Leckie and Danton Suppie oversee duties on the rest. While it seems Starsailor's development is going to be more incremental than hoped, Silence Is Easy is steady progress, a solid album that finds them moving forward without rocking the boat. --Kevin Maidment