It is probably fair to say that last year was a disruptive one in the emergence of Welsh band The Starling Radicals, the band having to deal with “several sequential departures of recently-joined members” though it did give their fans the well-received Wasteland EP. They have come through that turbulence though with a new stable line-up and now a new encounter in the shape of Promisedland Vol 1 which as good as demands keen attention.
Formed in 2012, The Starling Radicals has built a strong and loyal following with their alternative rock bred sound nurtured with the inspiration of bands such as Nirvana, Stereophonics, and the Manic Street Preachers. Two years after stepping forward, the band released debut album Saintland, the potent first step in their rise within the UK rock scene. Promisedland Vol 1 is another leap forward and with its quartet of hook rich and rousing slices of tenacious rock ‘n’ roll, quite easy to see pushing the band and reputation a few more rungs up the ladder.
With George Toulouse offering instinctively bold vocals and guitar, Gareth Bain the dark hues of magnetic bass, and Joe Steele the lively swings of his beats, The Starling Radicals quickly get down to business with EP opener I’m With Her. Straight away an enticing wiry hook escapes the strings of Toulouse, rapacious rhythms quickly adding to the almost carnival-esque initial prowl of the song carrying just a hint of The Shanklin Freak Show to it. It is a compelling and thrilling start which maybe loses its edge a touch as warm melodies and Toulouse’s instantly striking vocals step forward. Their presence though brings a new wave of Police meets Manic Street Preachers infectiousness which in turn entangles with that earlier temptation, the song revelling in its variety and creative dexterity as it firmly grabs ears and imagination.
The band quickly show that opening a song in fine style was no flash in the pan in the first as the following You Make A Mess Of Me uncages its own delicious hook built groove to get things underway; the guitar again the instigator soon aided by controlled but bold rhythms and Toulouse’s rich tones. Its swing never allows a moments rest even when the song simmers though it is always ready to bubble over again within its melodic rock ‘n’ roll. As with the first track there is something familiar at play but an essence only adding to the enjoyment of its infectious and enterprising proposal.
The Scottish Play has a dirtier air and snarl in its blues scented rock ‘n’ roll as well as a more classic rock scenting though ultimately it is their fellow Welsh men in the Manics which comes to mind as the track hits the spot just as potently as its predecessors.
The release ends with Heart This City, a song which did not make the same kind of impact as those before it at first but it is fair to say with Toulouse vocally as alluring as ever and rhythms an anthemic undercurrent, it grew in persuasion and temptation listen by listen. It makes a fine finale to a release which maybe is not as unique as it might be but pushes the sound, reputation, and stature of The Starling Radicals to new heights and indeed the pleasure of their company.
Promisedland Vol 1 is out now.
Pete RingMaster 29/11/2017
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