Stars, In Our Bedroom After the War

Peter Parrish

By Peter Parrish

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Mid-2007 turned out to be a bountiful time for Stars fans. The collective remix project Do You Trust Your Friends? arrived in May, and two months later — well in advance of its CD version — came the follow-up to 2005's indie-pop feast Set Yourself On Fire.

Canadian indie-poppers protest at the barricades of love.

For much of In Our Bedroom After the War, vocalists Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan appear to be channelling the liberated, emotional excess of the Romantic poets, invoking a sense of willful abandon which tinges the record with glee. Even as keyboards ring sadly and voices tell of relationships on the brink, it still feels as though someone, somewhere is getting their carefree kicks — as if our Canadian wordsmiths are waltzing at a lakeside retreat, revelling in the sensations they've unleashed.

When they're not rushing headlong at tragic lovers, surging choruses goad the group towards the barricades, into the rioting fray. Lines of conflict, both escalating and resolved, contribute to the central conceit of dizzying highs and lows. Even the gentle, horn-flecked sway of “My Favourite Book” hints at this duality — driven by devotion, but also invigorated by the wider knowledge that heartbreak could be just a page away.

As might be expected, the strongest hook in the Stars orbit remains the vocal interplay between Campbell and Millan. Whether exchanging quips on the none-more-lonely skit “Personal” or jostling for territory on “The Ghost of Genova Heights,” their contrasting tones complete the rich instrumentation, like the silk lining of a debonair garment. As the closing title track breaks into a stately piano-stride, Campbell softly intones “It's us / Yes, we're back again / here to see you through / ’til the day's end.” He's right — but what his comforting message can't quite convey is the breathless nature of a typical Stars day; twenty-four hours devoted to the terrible, brilliant cost of love.