Released September 4, 2012
Stand back and let the new Stars record take over your life for a while. It’s an aesthetically cool collection of songs that wouldn’t be out of place playing over a Brooklyn coffee shop stereo or on the Portlandia soundtrack, and it draws from such a varied group of influences that it will never get old.
It’s time to head North. Or so declares the album’s opening sample which references an obscure Canadian pianist, immediately establishing the group’s nationality. Being based up in Toronto, these guys are probably used to colder weather, so it only makes sense that North is like a musical electric blanket. Full of fuzzy, sometimes chiming synths and lazy Real Estate-esque guitar lines. Stars are generally an indietronica band, but there’s more to them than that. The North ends up running more of the indie pop/rock gamut (like peers Metric) than Stars’ previous albums (13 in total; this is one hard-working band), and there’s even a fair bit of melancholy Smiths-influenced melody. Plus, don’t forget the perfectly intertwining male/female vocal work of Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan! Especially on “Do You Want To Die Together”, which combines Stars-filtered Buddy Holly verses and Muse choruses to reimagine some classic Shakespeare. Like I said, sometimes melancholy. But there are also plenty of soaring, inspiring sentiments such as “Take the weakest thing in you / And then beat the bastards with it / And always hold on when you get love / So you can let go when you give it.” Good stuff.
At times blissed-out electro pop, at other times hip and danceable, this album’s got everything. It’s even laced with veiled metaphors about the industry in which Stars have made their home. In “A Song Is A Weapon” the band speculates on the right-place-right-time happenstance that goes into hitting it big: “I can only hope to kill you with a song / With a song, with a song / I’ve got one shot to kill you.” Spoiler alert: they will. But you know, in a good way.
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