“Portals,” the new EP from Irish alt-rock band Under Starling, is a four song collection of ethereal style emo-pop rock that transports you to places and moments of great, soul-stirring resonance. Altogether, Under Starling specializes in a variety of break-up songs from differing perspectives and attitudes. Each song opens the door to someone’s story, but the parting of the ways always comes for them in the end.
Leading off, “Canopies” is a heart wrenching cut about watching someone self-destruct right before your eyes. Instead of lending a helping hand, they stand back and wait to see if they can save themselves from what’s tearing them apart. It goes even so far as to compare their partner’s future to a dystopian nightmare if they continue down their current path. It’s a dark, aggressively morose break-up song from the perspective of someone who’s given up on the prospect of change.
“Nazare” evokes the crashing waves that occur near the namesake, coastal Portuguese town. It’s a song about being cast aside by another and being caught adrift, afterwards. Try as you might, you can’t fight against the tide of change as it pushes towards you. Melodically, there’s a slow and steady build up of simmering guitar, bass and drums that gradually appear before the first chorus hits. It’s almost as if it’s ramping up in the distance before it slams into the rocky shores. The rise and fall, chanting style of parts of the vocals are right at home with the rest of the seaside aesthetic.
The elegant sounds of “Eros” reveal a relationship that is beyond saving, even by divine intervention. Referencing Eros, the ancient Greek god of love, it’s about someone who still carries a torch or, in this case, a “flaming dart” for another. For the most part, it is a lighter than air melody with some very timely, soaring guitar riffs punctuating it towards the end.
Finally, “Coraline” is a short and sweet, soothing, autotuned goodbye note. It’s a bittersweet farewell because of how much love that still exists for them. It makes a point to be reassuring that everything will work out in the end, even if it’s not with each other.
Written by Travis Boyer
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