The first time I heard a Stars song, “Your Ex-lover is Dead”, I remembered my friend bragging, “you know, they’re Canadian”. There is a reason why Stars makes me proud to be Canadian, and although we also have Bieber representing us in terms of musical talent, Stars have a way of singing about love, heartbreak, death, etc. in such a delicate way that it is difficult not to recognize their brilliance.
When I got the chance to listen to their new album The North, I was excited to see what a new concoction of vocals, pop, instrumentals and harmonies they had arranged this time around. I wasn’t surprised when I saw that the album name, The North, was also a song on the album and a great one at that. Reminiscent of older Stars’ songs, “The North” gives a soothing vibe with just the right amount of catchy-ness.
Several songs – “Do You Want to Die Together” and “The Loose Ends Will Make Knots” – feature a conversational and lyrical exchange between singers Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan and can easily be compared to songs from earlier albums such as “Personal” and “The Big Fight”. The use of dialogue between the two singers works as a strong storytelling device and flows flawlessly with the instrumentals presented.
The first track, “The Theory of Relativity”, gives me an eighties vibe. This song, out of all the others on the album, feels the most out of place. There is something about the electronic pop direction the song takes that puts me off, however, the lyrical repetition really sticks.
The second track, “Backlines”, is one of my favourites. The upbeat rhythm with the combination of Millan’s voice gives off a strangely empowering feel which just makes me want to dance. This song is a great example of how Stars are not only great at producing slower paced songs, which is what they get pigeonholed for a lot of the time, but that they can also produce danceable tunes.
Nearing the middle of the album there is a song entitled “Lights Changing Colour”. This jam is immediately recognizable as a Stars track to even a modest fan due to the dreamy and slower paced structure. The whisper effect of Millan’s voice makes for an eerily sensual yet gloomy song which, unlike R.L. Stein, never fails to give me goose bumps.
Overall, The North is a successful album in terms of consistency and although there seems to be little experimentation in terms of new styles, it marks itself as “safe” and will satisfy fans who enjoy the security it brings.
Stars’ new album comes out September 4th so give it a listen. If your love for this talented Canadian band is strong enough then maybe you’ll join me in seeing them at Rogers Arena on November 10th where they will have the pleasure of opening for another great Canadian talent, Metric.