Stornoway - Beachcomber's Windowsill
When Sharleen and co. settled on the name Texas as the branding to drive their money-spinning career of soft, sub-Motown pop, it was, you imagine, in the hope of bringing thoughts of wide open vistas and sun-bleached bones to dreech Glaswegian streets. By similar intent Oxford boys Stornoway are probably invoking a certain Hebridean mystery, of crashing waves and wind-dried cod for their enjoyable take on populist folk, a genre that seems have caught something of the zeitgeist for whatever reason.
Generally, they've succeeded, especially on the front end of their debut, and nowhere more so than the strangely suited-to-radio lead track 'Zorbing', an addictive mix of festival anthem in waiting, barbershop harmonies and Boo Radleys brass. 'I Saw You Blink' brings the band's debt to all things Celtic to the fore, lifting something straight out of the Camera Obscura songbook, the counter melodies being so Stevie Jackson that you reach for the sleeve to check the erstwhile Belle and Sebastian man hasn't dropped in for a spot of the old guest-o appearance-o.
Occasionally they drift into middling folky material like 'Fuel Up' and while the James-like 'On The Rocks' is not unpleasant, it doesn't play to their strengths. Tracks like the soaring, yearning 'The Coldharbour Road' and the rhythmic momentum of 'Boats and Trains' ("And I'm too shy to stop you in your tracks / And you leave me in the dark / Again"), have enough about them to at least nibble at the heels of housewives choice Mumford and Sons in the nu-folk championship stakes. The harmonies return for the banjo-led 'We Are The Battery Human', a wry look at our cubicle existences ("We were born to be free range"), indicating that when Stornoway transcend the obvious genre elements - both lyrically and musically - they could be a new Waterboys, if that's a crown to which anyone truly aspires.