Stars & Flights – Moral Colour

Stars and Flights Promo-4

Having been impressed if not blown away by the Veins EP from Welsh rock band Stars & Flights a year ago, there was certainly an air of intrigue and anticipation towards the band’s second album and how it would develop the undoubted promise of the last release. Though Moral Colour also does not leave passions always gasping for air, the new ten-track exploit is a major step on and greater realisation of the potential embedded within the band, but a release still suggesting there is plenty more to come as the South Wales trio continue to evolve.

Hailing from Neath, the threesome of vocalist/guitarist James Davies, bassist Kierran Tomkins, and drummer Bradley Ratcliffe has continued to impress and build a potent fanbase in line with the healthy reputation of their sound and creative development. Live the band persistently impresses, their shows including sharing stages with the likes of Neck Deep, Freeze The Atlantic, Attention Thieves, Fighting Fiction and Drones, whilst first album Dropping Anchors released two years after the band formed in 2010, drew strong responses and acclaim with its Romesh Dodangoda produced offerings. The Ruin EP saw Stars & Flights take a strong step in their songwriting which hinted at greater things ahead, a suggestion confirmed and taken further by Moral Colour. Released as the EP and previous album via Ghoulish Records, and recorded with Chris Coulter (Arcane Roots, Empire), the new full-length is the powerful confirmation of a real force brewing within British alternative rock.

The title track is first up and through a sonic mist and rhythmic enticement is soon warming up ears with broad strokes of guitar, turning Moral Colour Coverinto a full riff which then leads into a mesmeric weave of melodic invention and progressive teasing. The impressive voice of Davies ably backed by the band, adds to the initial drama of the blossoming narrative, whilst bass and drums encase voice and guitar enterprise in a firmly handling cage of potent suasion. It is a gripping start to the album, not an explosive one but an entrance which lets you know that there is a new depth and fire to the songwriting and its passionate unleashing.

The following Fairweather makes a more restrained entrance but instantly the guitar of Davies is entwining the senses in a delicious web of sonic colour as rhythms, especially from Ratcliffe, almost stalk ears with rapacious energy and stylish endeavour. There is a familiarity to the melodic scything which ripples within the track and whilst it is highly appealing it does defuse any element of surprise, but against that it is a song which embraces rich imagination and emotions to increase its potency and persuasion over time, much as the album does. The song also finds an essence of The Fall Of Troy in its body which only enhances its temptation before making way for the emotively sculpted Bitter Hands. The bass of Tomkins is given a little more room to shine which it takes with both hands to provide a throaty tempting through the lighter pop and hope infused stroll of the encounter. Admittedly it fails to spark as irresistibly as others songs but it makes a very decent appetiser for a new plateau to the album.

Moral Colour kicks into another gear from here on in, and as strong as its start was it pales against firstly the immense weight and thrilling presence of Paper Roots. From the first blaze of guitar, the track casts a delicious shadow over ears and thoughts, its predacious intensity and stride seared by melodic adventure and deeply gripping hooks over which the ever impressive vocals roar magnetically. Like a mix of Reuben and Million Dead with a flume of Manic Street Preachers at its core, the track is a virulent maelstrom of musical ideation and impassioned reflection.

Its glory is soon matched by the outstanding Glass House, the song a cascading tempting of sonic niggling and rhythmic antagonism reined in by the expressive voice of Davies. There is honesty to the heart and sound of the song which seems inspired by the lyrical stance about being open is the surest way to lose detrimental skeletons and secrets. The track is a fiery treat but it is when it slips into a coaxing repetition glanced passage with a definite Adrian Borland feel to its success, that it reaches an irresistible pinnacle, a height swiftly walked by Tired Nightlife too. From its opening sonic emprise which in turn leads into a thick flame of provocative melodic hues and rhythmic enticement, the song just seems to grow in stature and persuasion whilst showing another twist in the invention of Stars & Flights.

Repeater, Repeater recalls much of what has gone before in the core of its body which lets it slips below previous standards but to be fair with another great rhythm induced contagion from Ratcliffe amongst excellent twists of discord brewed guitar ingenuity it still provides a thrilling and anthemic stomp to involve emotions fully with, before the increasingly compelling ballad Dearest On Show with its enthralling march of rhythms, hug of melodic expression, and vocal seducing adds another major highlight to the album. It is a gentle embrace which simply grows in weight and textures with every syllable and note.

The almost deranged arrangement of Head Full of Static provides the next treat, that intrigue of The Fall of Troy coming into view again as well as another smell of Reuben like emotional pungency. Technically captivating and sonically engrossing, the track is not the most accessible on the album but another to light the fires before The Roman Way closes up the compelling release in fine style. Again it is a song which like its predecessor has little care for staying within its boundaries, the guitar at times flitting around with an addictive discordant devilry whilst melodies and harmonies invest in a greater epidemically spawned catchiness. It is a great end to the album and further evidence of the strengths and potential of Stars & Flights.

Certainly Moral Colour as a whole misses something to fully enslave the passions but containing so many songs which individually forge a new level and success for the band, there is really very little to stop a full recommendation of a rather enjoyable and increasingly impressive album.

Moral Colour is available via Ghoulish Records now at


RingMaster 17/06/2014

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