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Stornoway - 'Zorbing'

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Fraser McAlpine | 09:54 UK time, Monday, 31 May 2010


Dammit. I hate to be so easily pigeon-holed as a listener.

In an ideal world, I'd be able to fend off the advances of this song. I'd be making snarky claims about Mumford and Sons and helium. I'd be inventing a joke about the folk bandwagon, and how, because folk is all about the olden days and waistcoats and moustaches, right, it's more of a band-stagecoach, yeah?

I'd be prodding the lyrics and singling out the references to having "started uni" and "the streets of Cowley" for derision and outright mockery. I'd be posturing about this being a re-release (THE NERVE!). Those hats would get a shoeing too. I'm hard like that. Sometimes.

(Here's the video. I bet they had to regularly stop filming for the band to be sick.)


The trouble is, this has everything I know I like. It has a keening, mournful melody, sung in a beautiful quavering tenor and a regional accent (or at least, not a mid-Atlantic slur). It has trumpets. It has lovely harmonies, spread over a big harmonic range so when they kick in, the song seems to open up, and comfy dancing angels in cardigans come flying out to dust off your antimacassar (olden daysy stuff, y'see).

Lyrically it has an eye for tiny details, the sort of stuff which is not universal but that anyone can relate to or ponder upon, like "conkers shining on the ground". The Cowley thing gets me particularly 'cos I grew up not far from there, so that was a low blow, but really everyone knows of a place which is a local hub, and therefore important to them, but unknown to the wider world. These things tug at the heart, and that's basically what Stornoway are all about.

So yeah, it's a sentimental journey, it's a sign of the times, it's an expression of a current trend in would-be-alternative music, and it's the sort of thing you could buy as a present for your dad without a murmer of complaint.

But it's also close to reducing one snarky blogger to a heap of joytears, so, y'know...

Five starsDownload: Out now
CD Released: May 31st
BBC Introducing page

(Fraser McAlpine)

Breaking More Waves says: "Smile knowing that for three minutes and thirty seconds everything in the world is OK."

Girl From The Hills says: "Zorbing is...the extreme sport of rolling down the hill while strapped inside a giant plastic ball."

You Ain't No Picasso says: "As is too often the case, I'm discovering this song in the completely wrong season."



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