Record review: Adam Stafford – Build a Harbour Immediately

Y’all is Fantasy Island may have called it a day but this isn’t a bad way for former front man Adam Stafford to launch as a solo artist as his debut pulls all the stops to live up to the brilliance that his former band and likewise his film work have adhered to. And it doesn’t go with the help of his former band members Robbie Lesiuk and Steven Tosh too!

1. Fire & Theft – Begins on a delightful bouncing bass before refraining into a haunting alt-rock melody while Stafford injects calm clear vocals which could easily have a whole crowd singing along before swooning away on breaths of guitar and chants of “la la la la la”.

2. Police No Speech – Starts on a more delicate note drifting off beautifully as Stafford sounds more distinctively Scottish and is joined in a charming lament by Edinburgh alt folkstress Emily Scott. There’s a distinct likeness to John B McKenna’s Monoganon, and it’s possible Stafford has formed some of McKenna’s inspiration in the past but either way I’m sure either will sniff at the comparison.

3. A Temple of the Holy Ghost – A faint tapping kicks into gear as Stafford sings along to an addictive melody, sometimes straining to reach an end adding an extra charm and pushing into delightfully simple chorus of “how-how-how-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh” that pulls the listen together with a gentle touch of hope.

4. Cathedrals – Is a laid back ballad which switches between dual vocals, with Louise Ward’s sweet tones, to almost spoken word pushing for a tear from listener as Stafford softly places “but we can change our lives/change our cathedrals”.

5. Shot-Down You Summer Wannabes – Possibly the album stand out as Stafford demonstrates what he has been doing so well live for so long now, crafting a song out of building loops of vocal sounds all made into something breathtaking by an encouraging set of lyrics. This sounds brilliant here, but I don’t doubt with the added input of it being built up in front of you will be all the impressive live.

6. Step-Up, Raise Hands – A brash pompous pop beat backs a dual vocal attack which once again see Stafford demonstrates that he is capable of turning his hand to a range of different sounds, while still keeping that cool clear folksy rock vocal which make his songs so addictive.

7. Build a Harbour Immediately – The album’s title track is a gentle, plucked number that settles itself nicely into place and lulls you off into a calm daydream, before effected vocals and high-pitched screeches sees the track turn more towards the freak folk of Animal Collective but still keeping it short and sweet.

8. Frederick Wiseman – Another built up on loops this time mainly on vocal chants before a haunting coo comes into the mix and pulls the track together perfectly and once again sends to listen off into another world, but just as quick as it builds it drifts off into harsh static.

9. A Vast Crystal Skull – Another gentle one to finish the album as guitars layer up to create a beautiful backdrop and set off a relaxing wave and when Stafford’s vocal comes in things continue in the same fashion and leave the listener drifting for near nine minutes before they realise, to their dismay, that the record has finished.

Stafford is clearly a man who knows what he’s doing and in Build a Harbour Immediately has delivered on yet another scale. Powerful, beautiful tracks that range from sing-along crowd pleasers to dreamy soundscapes to down right jaw dropping craftsmanship leave us just waiting to experience this live.

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