Review: Canadian indie rock group Stars shines with newest CD release
In a move that is one step ahead of music pirates, Stars, the uber-romantic Canadian indie rock group that shares members with Broken Social Scene, surprised fans by releasing their album “In Our Bedroom After the War” digitally online way before their Sept. 25 release date.The decision to release the album early smacks of a “fans first” philosophy, though they would also like to get paid for their music, and fans are loving it. iTunes already has pages full of comments and high marks from ecstatic listeners.Stars, on the Canadian Arts and Crafts label, says on its Web site that band members decided to release the album legally in a digital version earlier than the original release date because it will be leaked anyway. Through sending out the completed album to reviewers and radio stations, someone will leak it, they say, and better for fans to support Stars by purchasing it rather than downloading it illegally.
The actual album (you know, the kind that comes in that jewel case thingy), as well as the vinyl version, will still be released on September 25. The digital download is already impressive.Stars creates complex pop ballads, music that’s interwoven with heartbreaking stories. Their biggest asset is their two lead singers, Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell, whose often monotone, whispery voices meld perfectly together.Most of their songs are duets, and Millan’s girlish voice floats unpretentiously through symphonic melodies. Though both Millan and Campbell usually stay in their vocal comfort zone, on “After the War” they both reach for the, well, you know…Like their last great album, “Set Yourself on Fire,” a few intriguing audio clips are thrown in to make things interesting. The album springs to life after a woman rehearses a poem, asking, “Will we wake in the morning and know what it was for, up in our bedroom after the war?”
“Take Me to the Riot” speeds things up in a fashion more like their previous albums, with Campbell’s voice bursting through upbeat guitar. The quality of his voice combined with the music in this song and “The Ghost of Genova Heights” is reminiscent of Eighties greats, like OMD, Tears for Fears and Prince. His normally proper and buttoned up vocal persona stretches for high-pitched bliss in “Genova,” and gorgeous near-operatic poetry in the piano ballad “Barricade.”Millan shines on “My Favourite Book,” “Window Bird” and “B*****S in Tokyo” proving she can do much more than speak-sing. Her wispy voice is just sweet and easy to listen to.Of course, Stars can’t shy away from tear-jerking tunes, and this time they come in the form of “Personal” and “Life 2: The Unhappy Ending.” Millan and Campbell sing with such convincing yet simple depth that you might actually get mad at the outcome of the online-dating story they tell in “Personal.” As Millan herself coos, “Sorry to be heavy, but heavy is the cost.”The rest of the album is pretty and emotive, and it comes to a close with a “Now’s the time to say goodbye”-like ending, which ends up redeeming itself with intense vocals from both Millan and Campbell, epic instrumental performances and choral nuances.
Stars have set the bar high, and the band’s street smarts when it comes to Internet downloading will likely prove to be an asset as members continue to awe listeners from their unique niche in the indie scene.Contact Samantha Pal384-9105, firstname.lastname@example.org
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