Silver Starling is the latest band to emerge from under the mighty shadow of Arcade Fire. Violinist/keyboardist Marika Anthony-Shaw is a touring member of the iconic Montreal collective, and frontman Marcus Paquin is engineering the band’s upcoming album. Comparisons between the two groups are warranted, given Silver Starling’s penchant for moody, baroque-tinged atmospherics. Paquin’s vocals are strained and emotive, at times sounding distinctly similar to Win Butler.
The group’s self-titled debut is an assured, mature-sounding album, although it’s a little smooth around the edges. The guitars shimmer rather than bite and the rhythm section is more plodding than it is rocking. At times, the group is so mellowed out that it sounds like Bon Iver. This is especially noticeable on the quietly reverent “Love and a Broken Heart,” a reverb-soaked ballad with haunting pedal steel flourishes.
When Silver Starling finally kicks into high gear on “This Is Not a Dream,” it’s a moment of revelation that shows the band’s massive potential—if only it was willing to show its claws more often. For the most part, however, the album is pleasantly atmospheric. The chugging, bass-heavy groove “Closer” and the slow-building opener “Something Over Nothing” would be ideal for movie soundtracks, but they’re unlikely to hold your full attention.