I will never quite understand how the Stars do what they do. This is their 6th full studio album and to me this is possibly the 4th change in sound they have gone through in that time. Although one of their shorter albums it probably contains more 'crowd pleasers' than any of their other albums. I will admit I am totally enthralled by their sound and always have been since being 'subjected' the their lyrics and sounds whilst working with my cousin about 10 years ago. Is this their best album yet? Honestly, probably not. Surely that has to be reserved for Set Yourself On Fire BUT this is still a five star album. The Theory of Relativity is brilliant. Undoubtedly one of their best tracks in a few years. The lyrics are right up there with the best. The sound even better. I wasn't totally convinced by the title track ' The North '. Just not dreamy enough. However there were other highlights. Do you want to die Together almost seems like a response to 'Personal' from the album 'In our bedroom after the war'. I can almost imagine the two people having found themselves then having that as their second topic of conversation. I don't know if it intentional but it is awesome either way. Progress took me a while to warm too. Once I did I noticed a lot about the track. Its simple but melodic beat and the clever bass sounds.
Perhaps it is best if I just say that this album surprises. The Five Ghosts was a good album. I really liked it but I can't just put it on and chill. I used to be able to do that with all their music but that album didn't have the right feel. I couldn't drive through the night with it as my soundtrack. That's not to say it wasn't full of amazing music. It was it just wasn't what they usually do. The North however is an entirely different animal. I feel like it tells a story once more. It feels refreshed. It is new without harking back to the old but still staying familiar.
It is beautiful. I'd buy it if I were you or you'll always wonder what you missed.
Alright so i'm biased, i have a soft spot for female voices this good, and male voices with unbridalled emotion, and the interweaving of the two vocalists is put together so perfectly, how do they know which songs are going to work with one, or the other, or both? Such intuition runs through more intriguing narratives and the music too. This is album no.6 by my reckoning and there's no saminess, no two songs that you would say they've done before, updated, you know? I love that freshness with these songs. It's such a treat when a band you adore still blesses you with originality. I so want to hug them all, really!
I have just seen the band at the Garage before Xmas and for the third time. Why are they not huge? They would fit perfectly into radio 2 shedules. If you are new to them , start here and work backwards. They are like a 21st century Deacon Blue, only Canadian and with better songs. Amy, lead singer is most talented and has great solo stuff too.
"Take the weakest thing in you, and then beat the bastards with it" (from "Hold On When You Get Love")
I was introduced to this band with their "Heart" album back in 2003, which I practically wore out, so I bought the earlier "Comeback EP" and "Nightsongs" discs, and promptly played them to death too. 2005 brought the superlative "Set Yourself On Fire"--which has yet to leave my iPod--and gets my vote for one of the best of the decade. Then came "In Our Bedroom After The War", which I didn't love, and then "Five Ghosts", which I dismissed when it came out, but has grown to be one of my favorites.
I'm pleased to say that "The North" ranks among their best.
Here are the standouts:
1. "Theory Of Relativity" - Stars does electronica dance music. Great track played loud. (Vocals: Torq Campbell)
2. "Backlines" - Guitar-driven indie pop, perfect for the Pitchfork crowd. (Vocals: Amy Millan)
3. "The North" - Heartbreaking in that uniquely Canadian bleak sorta way. Best song on the album. This one reminds me more of Memphis, Torq Campbell's other band. (Vocals: Torq Campbell)
4. "Hold On When You Get Love" - Stars channels New Order. Another one to play loud for the dance floor. (Vocals: Torq Campbell/Amy Millan)
5. & 6. "Through The Mines" & "Lights Changing Colour"- Stars channels Cocteau Twins. Both superb. If you heard these on the radio, you'd swear it was Elizabeth Fraser, Robin Guthrie & Company. (Vocals: Amy Millan)
7. "The Loose Ends Will Make Knots" - Exactly what you'd expect from Stars based on their earliest albums. This one could have been an outtake from "Heart" or "Set Yourself On Fire" (Vocals: Torq Campbell/Amy Millan)