A Silent Film: The City That Sleeps
A Silent Film’s debut album, ‘The City That Sleeps’, has been a long time coming. Originally announced back in the spring, it has been preceded by three download singles, and it is only now as we move towards winter that it has finally seen release.
The band’s label, Xtra Mile, obviously have very high expectations for A Silent Film, having drip fed them to the public over the course of the summer with the three singles and various support and festival slots before putting out the grand prize of the album.
A Silent Film are undoubtedly a great singles band. The Oxfordian four piece’s second single, ‘You Will Leave A Mark’, won the band a deserved number one in The Sunday Times Culture’s Magazine’s ‘The Hottest Downloads’. Their anthemic piano-led music, like that of Coldplay, is as catchy and accessible as it is melodic. Vocalist Robert Stevenson meanwhile comes from the thoughtful school of song writing. His lyrics have a young man’s earnestness and cover everything from love and loss to racial divisions and the futility of war.
Yet for all its promise ‘The City That Sleeps’ is something of a disappointment. Over eleven tracks, with very little change in the routine, the cascading pianos and spiralling melodies all soon become too much of a good thing. Stevenson’s lyrics, worthy as they are, also start to grate with both preciousness and preachiness.
This is not to say that ‘The City That Sleeps’ is a bad album. Individually it is made up of some very fine components. Both love song ‘Lamplight’, a reworking of a song from the group’s first EP ‘The Projectionist’ from 2006 , and the self-loathing ‘You Will Leave A Mark’ are particularly sublime-sounding examples of grand scale pop writing with their soaring harmonies and tunes. Over the course of a whole long player, however, A Silent Film very quickly wilt into monotony.