By Tara Schoenborn
Indie folk group Stornoway’s second album does not build well on the band’s first effort.
In March, Oxford folk band Stornoway released its second album, Tales from Terra Firma, and embarked on one of the hardest journeys a band has to face: promoting a successful sophomore album. Stornoway’s first album, Beachcomber’s Windowsill, embraces the folk pop Celtic sounds on the band which thrives and from which it gathers inspiration. Like many songs on that first album, the band’s third single, “I Saw You Blink,” has that upbeat perfect summer folk vibe and catchy lyrics to boot.
In an effort to prove its potential, Stornoway changed some of its sound in Tales from Terra Firma. Though normally this is encouraged and can be a good showcase of talent, in Stornoway’s case, it was ill-advised. In some songs, the band’s experimentation with discordant sounds worked, like in “You Take Me As I Am.” But other songs like “Hook, Line, Sinker,” are just absolute fails. With “You Take Me As I Am,” the band attempts to showcase some of its signature upbeat folk music while also throwing in some new elements to prove versatility and show a willingness to experiment and expand. “Hook, Line, Sinker,” however, steers completely clear of what the band is good at in favor of a more rock approach, at which the band is unsuccessful.
Additionally, one of the album’s recurring issues — one that’s maybe acceptable on a first album, but not on a follow-up — is the band’s lack of memorable songs. Sure, the high vocals are nice, the harmonies are sufficient, and the beats are fun, but the melodies are hard to remember and frustrating to try to sing along with. That’s an almost fatal flaw for a summery pop folk band. Otherwise, bands like Mumford and Sons with similar fun, carefree sounds but catchier melodies are going to receive infinitely more success.