Starlight Serenade – The Foreign Films

3 stars (out of 5)

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Here’s an interesting one. The Foreign Films is the nom de guerre of Canadian multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Bill Majoros. He’s been around for over two years and worked with some very well-known and influential artists. He’s probably the opposite of most of the artists we feature on Music Riot; his work isn’t about authenticity and roots, it’s unashamedly about creating gloriously uplifting, hummable and foot-tapping pop tunes in the same vein as The Feeling in the UK a few years ago or 10CC a few more years ago.

Bill Majoros is in a line of pop creators from Jeff Lynne, Pete Waterman, Guy Chambers and others who know how to steal a lick or a hook from somewhere and turn it in to their own creation. It’s not a criticism, all three of those songwriters have been incredibly successful commercially, creating pop masterpieces for themselves and other performers. There are many ways of creating songs and each one is acceptable when it’s judged by the results.

“Starlight Serenade” is the second album by The Foreign Films to be released in the pandemic and once again demonstrates the ability of artists to adapt to changes in circumstances. If you can’t bring musicians in, you play everything yourself and you use technology to create orchestras and choirs, which is exactly how “Starlight Serenade” was made. Most of the musical settings are fairly busy and a couple, “Angel in Disguise” and “Photograph of You”, have Spector-like Wall of Sound arrangements, while the rest of the album has its roots firmly in fifties/sixties/seventies classic pop. Sometimes it’s subtle hints and sometimes it’s complete pastiche like “The Mystery of Love” which is pure fifties/sixties doo-wop with piano triplets and almost falsetto lead vocal. If you think you can hear an influence, then you probably can. “All the Love You Give” hints at the sixties Honeybus classic “I Can’t Let Maggie Go” with the intro from The Fratellis’ “Chelsea Dagger”, “Many Moons Ago” is a nod towards The Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday” and “Rainbows” feels a lot like “Here Comes the Sun”.

“Starlight Serenade” is looking resolutely backwards to a couple of decades in the middle of the last century when pop songs were catchy, upbeat and full of hooks. It’s all about creating songs that are uplifting and, let’s be honest, we could all do with some of that at the moment. Listen and smile.

“Starlight Serenade” is out now on CURVE MUSIC (SNVY82).

Here’s the video from “All the Love You Give”:

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