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STARSAILOR Ė ON THE OUTSIDE - EMI MUSIC
Record Rating: **

Starsailor - On The Outside - EMI Music Formed by music students James Walsh (vocals/guitar), James Stelfox (bass) and Ben Byrne (drums); the band went through several line-ups before the arrival of keyboardist Barry Westhead cemented their sound.

Their debut release was hailed as one of the best British rock albums of 2002 and the sophomore effort Silence Is Easy was hotly anticipated, largely upon the fact that legendary producer Phil Spector was coming out of retirement to work with these boys. The result was a fantastic record filled with pop cinematic romanticism. Mixing Coldplayís aesthetics with Radioheadís pop sensibility, the bandís latest release On The Outside finds them in pretty much the same place as before, but with much weaker production values.

The first single In The Crossfire opens things up in a formidable fashion;, the aggression vented in lead singer Walsh's voice ends the song on a high note, and so does the rest of the album from here on. Produced by Rob Schnapf (the man behind alternative favourite Beck), the eleven songs on the CD begin genuinely well, but tend to taper off in the middle somewhere. Itís clearly not capable of returning them to the heights of their last release.

And with a play list that plays for less than forty odd minutes, the album lacks creativity, solid purpose and direction. Case in point: Keep Us Together, an attempt at ripping off early U2, which fails magnificently. On this release you may find yourself cursing them for being sucked into the over-hyped, over-played bubble gum world of dirty pop. Still, Way Back Home is their most radio friendly moment since the French chart topping single Four to the Floor, and could give the band a last attempt to salvage whateverís left of their career after this failed release. Coldplay fans will be disheartened at the ordeal.

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