From the beginning, what has made Stars unique has been their ability to craft gorgeously dreamy pop music without sounding overly precious or nauseatingly cute. Indeed, that’s quite an accomplishment, sustained over the course of four excellent albums, given the Toronto band’s main ingredients—boy/girl harmonies, fuzzy instrumentation chock full of electronic burps and giggles, and high fructose singalong melodies –- a combination that lesser bands use to churn out excessively twee, assembly-line bunk.
Stars have never done "small" very well-- hell, I don't think they've ever done it at all. The Toronto act, now entering their second decade, have built a reputation on filtering tragedies of the heart through a widescreen lens, most excellently on 2004's Set Yourself on Fire. Even 2007's theatrical In Our Bedroom After the War exquisitely mired itself in misery, sounding more like 13 takes on the Smiths' "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me" than the original cast recording of Gypsy.
Well this is all wrong. In recent interviews Torquil Campbell has noted that The Five Ghosts, Stars' fifth album, was recorded under difficult personal circumstances for the all the band, not least the death of their frontman's actor father Douglas. So maybe, just maybe, the Montrealer's hearts weren't really in the making of this pallid offering.