Stars Upon Thars
Good stuff comes out of Canada, and Stars have done some damn good stuff. The North may be their damn best.
Lately, indie pop comes in very few flavors. The most prevalent seems to be the ecstatic vanilla that M83 produces so beautifully. It’s got an 80’s tinge, lots of sampled sound-painting and enough of a groove to get your twirl on. Oftentimes, however, for that extra kick, you need to mix and match some rock and pure electronic in there, or live your listening life in perpetual safety. But what if there was a band that did all of those things? One band to satisfy the mellow twirly pop craving and a gutsier, experimental fancy?
Stars might just be that band. The North is Stars’ sixth studio record. It slips cunningly betwixt Passion Pit-style space-pop and something much more distinctive. It’s as if the track arrangement deliberately alternates between enjoyably safe and excitingly risky. Take, for example, the placement of “Through the Mines,” and “Do You Want to Die Together.” “Mines” is a very nice, gentle track that places Amy Millan’s wispy vocals over layered guitars, lots of reverb. It’s lovely, but nothing you wouldn’t mistake for a Metric song without paying close attention. Right on its heels comes “Die,” a doo-wop duet gone wrong; as if the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance were commandeered by a band of futuristic goth kids: “Do you want to die together? Yes I do! Yes I do!”
The North is a really solid, fun record from a really solid, wonderful band. Their weirder moments make the whole thing more worth it. So come for the good vanilla, if you like, and stay for the more exotic delights hidden inside.