released June 22nd, 2010
from the album - I Died So I Could Haunt You
from all music
Sharing a fondness for sophisticated soul and pop artists like the Smiths, New Order, and Marvin Gaye, vocalist Torquil Campbell and keyboardist Chris Seligman formed Stars in Toronto. Along with friends Evan Cranley (also of Big Rude Jake) and Amy Millan (who contributed to the soundtrack for the film Drowning Mona), the band relocated to New York City before returning to Canada, this time settling in Montreal. Their debut full-length, Nightsongs, was released in early 2001, with the Comeback EP following later that same year. The band's mix of pop and indie rock made Stars a popular act in Montreal, not to mention an important part of the city's burgeoning indie scene, and their success began spreading into other cities as well.
Before 2002 came to an end, the band headed back into the studio to record a sophomore effort. The soft-hued Heart was released to critical acclaim in the U.K. before Christmas; Heart appeared stateside on the Canadian label Arts & Crafts during summer 2003. The ambitious Set Yourself on Fire followed two years later, and all of its tracks were creatively remixed by the band's peers. Stars released those remixed songs on a new album, Do You Trust Your Friends?, in 2007. During July of that year, as a preemptive measure to beat any blog leaks of their next record, Stars made In Our Bedroom After the War available for download two months before its actual September release date. They also created their own label, Soft Revolution, which released the band's next studio album, The Five Ghosts, in 2010.
Returning to work with Tom McFall, who produced the group’s 2005 album Set Yourself on Fire, Stars recorded their fifth outing in their home city of Montreal, writing together as a unit in the studio. Self-funded, as the first of Stars' releases for their own Soft Revolution Records, The Five Ghosts finds the fivesome mainly playing it safe. As suggested by the title, the album involves a loose concept about ghosts, with songs like “I Died So I Could Haunt You” and “He Dreams He’s Awake,” as it tips back and forth between melancholy yet shiny ballads and saturated, coffeehouse dance music. Beats recall Postal Service's Give Up, with added ‘80s glitter courtesy of some newly acquired synthesizers and drum programs, but unfortunately, their approach feels more retro-dated than retro-cool. It’s possible that, by writing together in the studio, the controlled environment lent itself to a more sterile sound. It’s also likely that Amy Millan used up a lot of ideas while making her solo album a year prior. While a few hooks stand out -- particularly the “fisticuffs” chorus of “Fixed” -- most of the songs are too watered down, lyrically and musically, to be truly enticing.
1 Dead Hearts Stars 3:29
2 Wasted Daylight Stars 3:42
3 I Died So I Could Haunt You Stars 3:03
4 Fixed Stars 3:25
5 We Don't Want Your Body Stars 3:25
6 He Dreams He's Awake Stars 4:04
7 Changes Stars 4:13
8 The Passenger Stars 4:16
9 The Last Song Ever Written Stars 3:16
10 How Much More Stars 2:55
11 Winter Bones Stars 3:00