Stirling The Fall of the Winter Palace

Though there’s a whiff of generic melodic British-influenced rock throughout this sophomore album, the highs are actually quite lovely and indicate the possibility that Stirling may rise above the pack. Possessing a voice that sometimes cuts close to Elbow’s Guy Garvey, Matt Booi is definitely at home in the layered, guitar-driven climax that bands like Coldplay, Pilot Speed and even Snow Patrol revolve around. But, luckily, there is little moping to be had and Stirling seem to have found a bit of a swagger, seen best on "Slack Sabbaths.” Another catchy number comes via "Idaho Highs,” where Booi’s voice gets a good workout amidst the brisk beat and crashing drums. Sure, it’s been done before but that doesn’t mean Stirling don’t know how to catch your attention. Why, they even rise to another level on closer "Bourbon Kings,” which builds amazing tension with its piano, Booi’s excellent delivery and some awesome guitar. While this disc is a bit spotty, the heights hit are quite nice and provide hope for the future. (Aporia)