Stars
In Our Bedroom after The War
[Arts & Crafts]

Even with maturity that age brings, breakups never fail to bring up old teenage petulance. No band over the past few years has been better able to mine this territory for material than the Canadian foursome Stars. In Our Bedroom after the War offers the thematic conceit of a “Lost Generation” novel: bleak and melancholic but still undeniably rich and fruitful.

Their last Set Yourself on Fire was an exploration of the grief cycle of a breakup, sung out between the two talented vocalists Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan. Intensity was its boon and its downfall, and after a few listens, the interplay and he said/she said barbs wore thin. In Our Bedroom after the War is decidedly more relaxed, almost funky. Its lush orchestrations and surprisingly danceable beats are almost pretty.

In Our Bedroom is not remaining overtly political (as the title would indicate), but the band focuses on the personal elements of the present – how a climate of fear and dread can provoke personal problems. In “Take Me to the Riot,” Campbell plays the role of a disaffected protestor: “I’m there; yeah, I serve them, the one with the empty-looking eyes/Come closer, you’ll see me, the face that is used to telling lies.” The song, though, is almost pop-punk with pleasant guitars on the chorus and a peppy bass line propelling the verses.

It’s a nostalgic album, pining for a time when being different involved tightening up the songcraft, reigning in the freedom of noise for an ultimately better sound. Certainly, it owes much to the New Romantic movement of the early 1980s but without the overdone synthesizers and makeup. This album is elemental – naturalistic even. The band is musically simplistic when it needs to be but still rich (though never overdone) when it is required.

Grade: A-

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