I’ll be honest, I was 99% sure I wouldn’t like Stars and Sons. The Brighton five-piece have been (rather unfairly) lumped into the same piano-led-indie genre from which bands like The Fray and Keane make their living. And I hate The Fray and Keane. So yes, while they do feature plenty of piano, Stars and Sons are not simply another copycat piano-rock-band trying to capture on the mammoth success of, say, Coldplay. Far from it.
Dave Eringa handled the production duties on ‘Good Morning Mother’ – the band’s debut album – who is best known for his work with Manic St. Preachers and Ash. Despite having a super producer on board the end result retains a sort of raw, DIY sound, which works in the band’s favour. Another producer may have honed in all their theatrics and cleaned them up, leaving a glossy, chart-friendly shine. Instead, what we have is a big, stupendous debut that is very, very fun. Take the lyrical wit of Eels, the piano-pop of Ben Folds Five, the ambition of Muse, plus some over-the-top guitar solos a la Queen, then throw in a couple of bells and whistles and you’ll get ‘Good Morning Mother.’
Opener ‘Out Of View’ kicks the LP off in true Stars and Sons style – all up in your face – with strings and chimes livening up the spiky guitar riff and piano all building to one hell of a catchy, high-pitched chorus. This track really sets the pace for the rest of the album – rarely does the frantic pace or hysterical instrumentation let up. Single ‘If It’s Good For Me’ is enjoyable, summery piano-pop – perhaps not the best song on the album, but its successful ‘60s twang makes a mockery of everything that was on the last Panic At The Disco record. ‘In The Ocean’ is a personal highlight, with a sublime shoe-gazing indie vibe. The erratic ‘Comfy Now’ showcases the Muse-esqe guitar and keyboard wizardry, while ‘4 Stars’ sounds like Mr E and his Eels throwing a angst-ridden hissy fit.
Good Morning Mother’ is eccentric and challenging, while remaining accessible and incredibly enjoyable. The flutes, strings, brass, bongos, bells, etc. may be a little too much at times, and, very occasionally, it strays a little too near cheesy, Elliott Minor territory. Furthermore, this frenzied LP may require a certain mood, or time and place, to be fully appreciated (i.e. don’t stick it on if you’re feeling melancholic). But for a man who initially had reservations about Stars and Sons, and has grown very fond of them upon hearing their debut, feels all they need to do is ensure that their music gets to peoples’ ears and they’ll quickly fire up the ranks.