Stars – The North

Stars - The North

Album cover for The North by Stars

On the sixth record from Canadian band Stars, they kick things up a notch with more hard hitting beats, lush arrangements and wonderfully rich synths that comprise many the album’s twelve tracks. Led by Torquil Campbell, the album contains itself by never leaning too far in one direction or another by what are likely songs that were toiled over in every way. The impression is there that outside influences have little space inside the walls of The North once the doors are shut upon entry but with the presence of the five-member band, who all have or had other solo or side projects, including as part of Broken Social Scene, there is plenty to draw upon.

This time around, vocalist Amy Millan lends her voice often as a complimenting instrument to Torq’s vocals, sometimes providing concrete support to a song, like in Hold On When You Get Love And Let Go When You Give It. There are several songs in which she sings alone, typically on the more traditionally sounding tracks like the rock-assisted Backlines and Through The Mines. The remaining songs range from the synth-heavy The Theory Of Relativity and Progress to The North, an ambient account of a man who departs to the north, with the sing-along chorus “good luck, bad luck, survival.” Do You Want To Die Together evokes some Oracular Spectacular-era MGMT as they chant “Do you want to die together/Yes I do!/Yes I do!” as it proceeds into Lights Changing Colour, a delicate number with an intro that sounds like something borrowed from No Need To Argue by the Cranberries circa 1994.

The North is a house party where nearly everyone except the host is a stranger to you, with a few drama queens, several intermediaries and a bunch of separate cliques but everyone is too drunk to be tense. It’s a dramatic record where they advise you to “take the weakest thing in you and then beat the bastards with it,” in Hold On while never quite staying around long enough to get a reaction. Four stars

1. The Theory Of Relativity
2. Backlines
3. The North
4. Hold On When You Get Love And Let Go When You Give It
5. Through The Mines
6. Do You Want To Die Together
7. Lights Changing Colour
8. The Loose Ends Will Make Knots
9. A Song Is A Weapon
10. Progress
11. The 400
12. Walls

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