Stars are synth pop’s most enduring community-theater troupe: ambitious, corny, occasionally transcendent, comprised of five core members whose devotion to outsize displays of emotion is alternately endearing and a bit off-putting.
Though 2010′s The Five Ghosts earned them a 2011 Polaris Prize nomination, their best album was 2008′s In Our Bedroom After the War, because it was the most Max Fischer-ian of their productions. Subtlety isn’t this band’s strong suit, and that’s why No One Is Lost is a bit of a misstep; they’re just not going for it enough. The album is bookended by two ridiculous and gratifying disco tracks, and “Trap Door” contains a sax solo a la Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street,” but too many of these tunes are wandering an empty dance floor in search of a chorus.
“Put your hands up ’cause everybody dies!” sings Torquil Campbell on the title track, and if he sprinkled some of this unhinged hedonism into the rest of the material here it wouldn’t feel so lethargic. But “Turn It Up” sounds like Beach House covering The Sound of Music, “You Keep Coming Up” is limp electro, and “Look Away” is listless midtempo dream pop, although it’s not particularly dreamy. These guys are pros, so this is all perfectly listenable — but it’s not the whirlwind night-on-the-town it aspires to be.