Friday, August 31, 2012

Stars: "The North" (album review)

Montreal's Stars are one of those rare groups that seem to be getting better and better with each subsequent album.  They hit a new high with 2010's The Five Ghosts.  On September 4th they return with another new record, The North.

Lead singers Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan click from the start of this record.  Kicking things off with "The Theory of Relativity", an updated '80s techno pop number, the pair trade lines with an infectiously playful attitude.  They repeat it with the cheekily titled "Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It".

The back-and-forth doesn't quite work as well on the sock hop influenced "Do You Want To Die Together?".  They song swings wildly from hushed to bombastic in a contrived melodramatic mash-up.

Millan firmly takes the reins on "Backlines".  Orchestral, danceable indie pop is made even more compelling by her lovely dramatic vocals.

In a bizarre turn, "Lights Changing Colour" at times bears an eerie resemblance to that Cory Hart classic "Never Surrender".

The title track takes a bit of a different tact, using a roots rock guitar to underpin the harmony of the song.  It's a laudable effort, but one that just does not feature enough dynamism to carry it through.  More successful is the gently strummed "Through the Mines", again on the strength of Millan's vocal cords.

While not as consistently marvelous as The Five Ghosts, this is still a worthwhile album from one of the most vibrant rock bands in Canada.

Stars play the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on November 24th with Metric.

Best tracks: "Backlines", "Progress"

Track listing for The North:
  • The Theory of Relativity
  • Backlines
  • The North
  • Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It
  • Through the Mines
  • Do You Want To Die Together?
  • Lights Changing Colour
  • The Loose Ends Will Make Knots
  • A Song Is A Weapon
  • Progress
  • The 400
  • Walls

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This album is much more consistent that The Five Ghosts. It has a grace to it which is very much akin to Heart and the best and most consistent they've done since Set Yourself on Fire.