The Music Box: Silver Starling’s Arcade Fire-esque Self-Titled Debut

Track Listing:

  1. Something Over Nothing
  2. Caught In Your Glow
  3. Closer
  4. Blind
  5. Ghosts
  6. Love And A Broken Heart
  7. Blue Light
  8. This Is Not A Dream
  9. The News
  10. Old Man

The Band: Marcus Paquin didn’t guide his Canadian five-piece down a musical path that, sonically and stylistically, resembles Indie Art-Rockers Arcade Fire.   Paquin isn’t following in Win Butler’s footsteps, and he is definitely not taking a page out his acclaimed and celebrated Maple Leafed brethren’s work book.  In fact, Paquin assisted in the scripting of said book as a sound engineer on all three of Arcade Fire’s studio releases, including an elevated role on the band’s latest release, The Suburbs.

While working sound for other acts like Stars and Torngat, Paquin met jazz drummer Liam O’Neill and the pair began recording, eventually recruiting the front-man’s wife Marika Anthony-Shaw, a touring violin player for Arcade Fire.  Bassist Peter X and guitarist Gabriel Lambert were added shortly after that and Silver Starling was birthed.

Release Date: 9/21/09

The Review: Silver Starling’s self-titled debut is not so much a concept album as it is a tribute to a long-time friend of Paquin who passed away from pancreatic cancer in September 2008.  Working with such bleak subject-matter, one could expect this 10-track collection to morbid and depressing, but this record is far from a downer.

Silver Starling is the celebration of a life past rather than the mourning of one cut short.  The songs take the listener through the world these two friends lived from childhood to the end.

“Ghosts” is the hilarious story of two kids on a camping trip, their minds getting the better of them, both freaking out with every snapping twig in the black distance, but eventually making it out alive through the strength of their friendship.  It’s my favorite song on the album and the one with the simplest construction by far.  Assisting Paquin’s soft spoken vocals is an acoustic guitar and some light tambourine play before an exploding chorus reels you in.

What’s great about Silver Starling is its musical composition.  The band takes an abundance of simple instrumental play and intricately layers it on, transforming the menial into a brilliant soundscape.

The opening salvo, “Something Over Nothing,” Paquin’s pain-staking account of the end of his friend’s life, is a prime example of what Silver Starling’s musical styling is about.  It takes a couple of listens to decipher the multiple coats of instrumentals applied, but if you pay close attention, you’ll hear it, and it will blow your mind.

Silver Starling gets into trouble when the musicians try to be too fancy, when their play becomes overly complicated.  The songs “Closer” and “Blind,” fall under that category.  These songs are all over the place, it’s as if they transform into totally different pieces midway through with no binding bass-line.  However, these are isolated incidences.

“Caugt In Your Glow” is another great song complete with a twangy guitar bridge, unstrained vocals, and a trudging drum beat.  I may be completely off but It reminds me of something that Kings of Leon would do, one of the slower tracks off Only By Night, “Notion” or “Revelry,” something along those lines.

Silver Starling is Indie Art-Rock, It’s poppy Folk music, whatever labels have been placed upon it, however it has been described, this tribute to a fallen friend has a lot of bright spots.

Rating: 3.25/5

“Something Over Nothing”

“Caught In Your Glow”

“Ghosts”

About rote7123

Chris graduated from The College Of New Jersey in May 2011 with a Bachelor Degree in Journalism and Professional Writing, as well as a degree in Communication Studies. He has held down a position in the Asbury Park Press’ Sports Department since September of 2010 and is a contributor to the outlet's Arts & Entertainment section, and has contributed to The Aquarian Weekly all while being the sole operator of Asbury Park's premier music news outlet Speak Into My Good Eye.
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