Starsailor

Silence Is Easy

Starsailor's second album, Silence Is Easy, suffers from the dreaded sophomore slump phenomenon. The band members, particularly vocalist James Walsh, spent years contemplating -- and were under virtually no pressure to create -- their wonderfully tormented debut, Love Is Here. But the situation is not quite the same this time around for this British quartet desperate to follow in Coldplay's footsteps.

Attempting to compensate for the weak songs on Silence Is Easy are two superstar producers: Phil Spector, who worked over the title track, and John Leckie (best known for his production on the Stone Roses' timeless debut album), who interferes on "Shark Food." Both go overboard in their involvement, convoluting material that is not substantial enough on its own with dramatic, but ultimately unconvincing, studio enhancements. Meanwhile, the numbers produced by the band members themselves are over the top with unnecessary orchestrations and overwrought delivery (particularly unpleasant is "Music Was Saved"), neither of which masks the hollowness of the music underneath.

The occasional moments of clarity on Silence Is Easy are due to generous borrowing of licks from outside sources, such as on "Bring My Love," which directly lifts from the Manic Street Preachers' groove-laden "Design for Life," and "Four to the Floor," which, thanks to its liberal use of the melody from Tupac's "California Love" (which itself took its hooks from Bill Withers), ends up with a driving beat and solid foundation. But for all their strengths, these two songs are not enough to function as the life preservers that might have otherwise rescued this fast-sinking album.

 
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