Published: August 31, 2012
Album Review: Stars – The North
September 4, 2012
Review: Rule #1: when a comment on NPR states that the last half of the album is uninspired, don’t go into a panic thinking its going to suck, because some people are just wrong. On my first pass through streaming, I only had enough time to listen to the first six songs before the real world beckoned me back to work. Nervous to pick back up where I had left off, I was utterly relieved to find out that The North was not, in fact, loaded with all of the sonic gems in the front.
After apparently living under a musical rock for the past decade, I was introduced to the brilliance of Stars just a few short months ago. Lead singers Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan play off of each other beautifully and I was sucked into the loveliness that is Stars. Immediately upon hearing them Of Monsters & Men came to mind, with the soft dual vocalists playing off of each other. Stars could very well be OM&M’s older, wiser, more eclectic sibling.
Stars doesn’t have to rely on “hey, heys” and hand claps to draw you in. With its slick production and catchy (although somewhat cheesy) lyrics ‘Hold On When You Get Love And Let Go When You Give It’ is a perfect piece of indie pop bliss. If you were making an indie pop mixtape, it would fit right between Death Cab For Cutie & Rilo Kiley to say “this is how you do it.” It’s a musical “hell-yeah!” when Campbell slides into “take the weakest thing in you, and then beat the bastards with it.” The tempo of the album drops off briefly for ‘Lights Changing Colour’ & ‘The Loose Ends Make Knots’, but picks right back after a spoken word intro on ‘A Song Is A Weapon’ (did they hire Ben Gibbard to write song titles?). The synth beat sneaks back in on Progress, only to go missing on ‘The 400’ in favor of a sleepy piano melody in the divine love letter to Canada. Campbell and Millan are never so in sync as they are on ‘The 400’ and while most artists would end on this note, Stars floats right into ‘Walls’ with its lovely call & response over a bombilating baseline. ‘Walls’ should be the mark that Of Monsters & Men aims to hit on their sophomore release.
The two final tracks are two of the best on The North, and I can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the latter half of the album is not wholly uninspired.
Best Tracks: ‘Hold On When You Get Love And Let Go When You Get It’, ‘The 400’, & ‘Walls’