With salvo after salvo of undeniably hooky albums from everyone from the corrosive, cocksure 2 man Death From Above 1979 to the big orchestral pop of the million man Broken Social Scene, Canada buried it’s flag firmly in the indie rock landscape.
One of the ways that music scene kept evolving and changing was that members of groups would go on to become other groups or band together for notable collaborations. BSS gave birth to Feist, Dan Bejar of Destroyer and A.C. Newman became New Pornographers…and so on. And at the root of a lot of it, early on, a band called Stars.
Stars and Broken Social Scene were the pioneers who laid the groundwork for a sound and ethos, touring together and sharing bandmates, releasing early hits for a then new label Arts & Crafts. Where Broken Social Scene kept steamrolling and building momentum on a bed of huge, anthemic tracks and a live show that feels like a big tent revival, Stars’ gentle, overtly romantic sound lead to a quieter more anonymous path, they released a number of albums to varying degrees of acclaim, and although have been hard at work for quite some time, have generally stayed below the radar.
However, with a new release on ATO proudly titled “The North,” Stars’ Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan have released their best record since 2005’s “Set Yourself on Fire“. “The North“ is a tight and self-assured record so solid that that one could even argue it rivals that release for best Stars record. You’ve probably been hearing this track on KCRW’s airwaves:
Other highlights are the melancholic slow burn of “Lights Change” and the fizzy pop of “Backlines“, which capture Stars’ at their most manicly lovelorn.”The North” is a solid album from a solid band finding themselves again, and setting themselves on fire.
Stars will be in studio LIVE on Morning Becomes Eclectic this Thursday, October 18 (they’re playing at the Mayan that night) and they’ve gracefully offered up a free download of the Breakglass version of “Backlines“ which I highly, highly suggest you take, and listen to and share.
— Mario Cotto