It was roughly a decade ago that the Ann Arbor, MI-based Starling Electric began bringing joy to power pop lovers far and wide through an unusually assured and full-bodied first album. After a long delay its follow-up expands the confidence of its predecessor and offers increasingly skilled songs blending a variety of classic pop-rock styles; a deft full-band dynamic clinches the deal. Opting for the self-released route, Electric Company is out now.
Starling Electric began as the solo enterprise of songwriter Caleb Dillon and gradually morphed into a five-piece affair. After various changes in personnel the lineup solidified; Dillon delivered lead vocals with Ben Collins on guitar, Aaron Diehl on guitar and keyboards, John Fossum on drums, and Christian Blackmore Anderson on bass.
Originally self-released in ’06, their debut was picked up for distribution by Bar/None a couple of years later; Clouded Staircase revealed lingering aspects of solo-project throughout 18 tracks that exuded similarities to the work of Robert Pollard, in no small part due to Dillon’s voice, combined with a mingling of psych and folk-tinged power pop a la Big Star, hints of art-rock in the mode of Yes, and pop-prog gestures reminiscent of ELO.
The results won them some high-profile fans including Posies Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow and even Pollard himself, who secured Starling Electric as openers for dates on his ’06 tour of the US East Coast. Reportedly recorded in numerous on-the-fly locations, Clouded Staircase importantly didn’t reverberate as ramshackle or lo-fi, instead cohering into a vivid statement on the enduring merit of pop-rock ambitiousness.