Stornoway “Zorbing”

By Brad Reno on Wednesday, July 28th, 2010  |  12,628 views

Alt-Folk, Indie-Pop

Stornoway “Zorbing” Stornoway “Zorbing”

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The most immediately striking thing about “Zorbing,” a track from the young Oxford, England band Stornoway, is the strange barbershop quartet/gospel choir/sea chantey backing vocals that drop in from out of nowhere at the end of the first verse. In an era when indie bands are tossing industrial-size kitchen sinks into their arrangements, it takes ingenuity to be able to coax a “well, I wasn’t expecting that” reaction from listeners.

After that, the soaring melody of the verses and vocalist Brian Briggs’ clear, pure tenor kick in. When the trumpet swoops in towards the end, it’s clear that “Zorbing” is a fine new entry in the U.K. tradition of well-scrubbed folk-pop stretching back through James, The Housemartins and Del Amitri to early-1980s practitioners like Aztec Camera, Haircut 100, and The Bluebells. Roddy Frame, Edwyn Collins, or Nick Heyward would not be embarrassed to have the song in their catalogs.

In these days of fractured musical fandom, Stornoway’s hopes of reaching a larger audience are likely limited, which is a shame. 4AD completists will snatch them up, then wonder why they don’t really sound much like anything else on 4AD (which is releasing their debut LP, Beachcomber’s Windowsill, on August 8th), and fans of alt-folk in general will likely find them enjoyable. But in another era, they might have been huge–they’re talented, photogenic (the entire band is a preview of what the offspring of Ryan Reynolds and Scarlett Johansson will grow up to look like once they couple starts squeezing out young ‘uns), and immensely likeable. And with “Zorbing” they’ve written a song as good as “Love Plus One,” “Oblivious,” or any number of other clean-cut U.K. pop hits which are now considered classics.

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Rate It Here:  My ears, they bleed!Never againMehNot my thangOne listen is enoughGood, not greatWorth a listenPlaylist-worthyThis my jam!Songasm!!! (244 votes, average: 9.28 out of 10)

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12 Comments For This Post

  1. Can't stop listening Says:

    I just can’t help but listen to this song on repeat…This is a beautiful, melodic song that completely enraptures me and I doubt I’ll ever get tired of it. I’ve found great songs on this site before but this one is definitely the best.

  2. Laura Says:

    I love this song! Stornoway is such a great band.
    I heard them this summer at positivus festival, fell in love! :)

  3. TommyKay Says:

    What a beautifully charming track! I liked it so much that I bought the MP3 album. These guys have such a fresh, innocent sound. And Brian Briggs’ vocals, especially, are positively angelic. Thanks, Danny, for putting this little gem on the site.

  4. One Track Mind Says:

    So glad you loved it, TK. They’re definitely a refreshing act.

  5. KTSPRGN Says:

    Heard this song on the UrbanOutfitters playlist… instantly became my summer anthem. 2 months of listening to this song on repeat and I still can’t get enough! SO GORGEOUS

  6. Shannon(: Says:

    wow, this really surprised me, but in a good way. I loved it. I wish I’d heard this song earlier in the summer, it’s got such a great vibe. It actually reminded me (somewhat) of a song by the Beatles…. I love the singer’s voice too, it’s refreshing compared to all the screamo bands that sound exactly the same. I so want to hear more by these guys!

  7. Alexa Says:

    I feel good when I listen!!

  8. Jennifer Kincaid Says:

    Zorbing is a real word! I’m definitely “zorbing” when I dance to this on repeat while cooking dinner.

  9. marcleo shida Says:

    So James-esque. Amazing. I do love it

  10. Shotgun Harry Says:

    Look at those fucking hipsters

  11. Alexa Says:

    I heard this track at Starbucks after a day of shopping at Ralph Lauren’s Rugby.

  12. John Charles Says:

    Utterly BRILLIANT! Best song I have heard in years. It tickles my ears. ow did I miss it? Reminds me The Coral’s “Dreaming of You,” its so catchy and enthusiastic. But … I’m old.

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