Only about seven months ago did Velvet Starlings give us their debut, self-titled EP and blow us out of the water with works of art such as “If Life Ain’t Getting You High” and “Sold Down the River.” If anyone ever doubted this teen band’s performance before, Love Everything, Love Everyone… brings us a new and improved sound that is sure to change their minds.
Velvet Starlings is an indie Brit-rock/blues-based band lead by 16-year-old singer/songwriter Christian Gisborne. Christian is a multi-instrumentalist and no stranger to the music industry, working with his father, Roger, a veteran songwriter and president of the Sound x3 record label that Velvet Starlings is signed to.
On this second EP, the band continues to rock out with similar topics and styles as Velvet Starlings EP. For instance, the lead single of the record, “Kids in Droves,” speaks out against media overstimulation, similar to the last record’s lead single, “If Life Ain’t Getting You High.” “No Soul to Save” discusses the disappointment of modern pop culture, specifically to that of mainstream music. The ideas Christian sets on the table on this record challenge a lot of what we know to be normal in our day and age, similar to how he spoke out against politics in “Sold Down the River.”
There are no words to describe how brilliant and different Love Everything, Love Everyone… turned out to be, and yet there is so much to be said it can’t all be visited in one piece of writing. Almost every aspect of the music — instrumentals, production, songwriting — it has all improved exponentially on this EP compared to their self-titled debut. Even Christian’s diction has vastly improved from that first EP, making the lyrics seem less jumbled and easier to understand. As he is known to make a statement or call to action in his lyrics, this is a valuable characteristic, and while his voice did sound slightly more pleasant and less nasal on the previous EP, Christian does not fail to please with his explosive choruses and intense passion in his musical expression.
Whereas on Velvet Starlings EP we had three brilliant singles plus four other good tracks, Love Everything, Love Everyone… features ingenious songwriting across the board. The first track, “Bitter Pill,” takes us back to the familiar sound of “Borrowed Time” with its blues-heavy style and lyrics, and the EP ends with a completely different sound than anything we have previously heard by the band with “Broken Soul,” a gritty, progressive closing track reminiscent of The White Stripes.
As we grow nearer to the summer season, listeners will savor in the sound of “Karmic Lemonade,” harboring an I-told-you-so kind of attitude towards a girl that was once close to him. Unlike songs like “Victorious” by Panic! at the Disco or “Me Too” by Meghan Trainor, “Karmic Lemonade” bites back with intelligence and self-respect rather than arrogance. The girl in the song is, in essence, crawling back to the narrator, but he turns her away with a statement that he has moved on and doesn’t need her toxicity in his life. This is a lesson we may all be able to learn from: Christian doesn’t have the need to prove anything to her — he knows his worth, and whoever this song is directed to, she is not worth his time. Additionally, “Karmic Lemonade” is a clever metaphor to the idea of karma. While your life may seem sweet right now, it will bite back later with a taste of your own medicine, perfectly resembling the taste of a sweet but sour glass of lemonade. You should try and make the best out of a sour situation, but not by pulling others down with you. In a way, “My girl, she’s looking like a sip of lemonade” shows that when life gave him lemons, Christian has indeed made himself a sweet glass of lemonade.
“Rabbit & a Gun” is a more confusing yet intriguing track on this record. Knowing that Christian is influenced by British Invasion bands like The Beatles, we can tell right off the bat that the lyric, “Should be following the Walrus’ advice,” is referring to the advice of John Lennon: peace, harmony, and love. The walrus is an allusion to the strangest Beatles’ song, “I Am the Walrus.” Both “Rabbit & a Gun” and “I Am the Walrus” show consonance with Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland book, so it is no wonder the song (especially the strange sound effects after the second chorus) is so trippy. As we hear Christian’s vocals echoing “And now you know we’re on it,” it creates an illusion that you have gone underground with the rabbits, and the sound effects of the wolves and ominous laughter contribute to a dread that you have indeed “fallen down the rabbit hole,” as the metaphor suggests. With the lyrics of the chorus and that relating to John Lennon’s music, we may infer that Christian is poking at the mainstream music of modern day, but in the final chorus, he sings, “But don’t go dancing while the moon is out/’Cause the farmer in the woods has got a gun.” There is another lyric talking about how we humans are “falling down the food chain.” Could it be poking at the food industry perhaps? Whatever the message may be (if one even exists), “Rabbit & a Gun” is clever and addictive, and arguably the best song that we have yet heard from the band.
Just like the seductive Emerald Isle, the abnormality of the ideas on Love Everything, Love Everyone… are so rich in imagery that it keeps drawing you back in to listen again and again; you get a taste of it, and it is something that you won’t want to leave. Christian shares so many controversial ideas and challenges the norm, but because he is not arrogant in the way it is delivered, it is not easy to refuse to at least hear him out.
Velvet Starlings EP was a beautiful piece of work that utilized influences from artists of the past. Love Everything, Love Everyone… is a unique, well-developed style from a band that is sure to go places in the near future. Christian is growing up, and his writing is following along with him. At this rate, there is no time machine needed; Velvet Starlings is already succeeding in their mission to nurture the starving music of the world and bring us back to the heyday of rock.