Set Yourself on Fire 

You know how sad beauty can be? How beautiful a broken heart can be? With this, their third full-length, Montreal-based Stars have created a work of astonishing gorgeousness that grabs hold of those ambiguities of life and lovingly beats you over the head with them. The band is another part of Canada’s Broken Social Scene/Arts & Crafts scene, which, apparently, is a bottomless well of inspiration.

The Stars sound is built around the pretty singing of Torquil Campbell (Memphis) and Amy Millan (Broken Social Scene). The vocals are backed with strings, electric guitars, fuzz bass, electronic beeps and horns provided by Evan Cranly (also from BSS), Pat McGee and Chris Seligman. Together, the band creates a sound that goes from gentle Euro-balladry to noisy free jazz techno freak-out. The layers of sound are the backdrop for obscure yet emotionally powerful lyrics that seem to revolve around people coming together and falling apart. There are love songs, sex songs, hate songs, broken heart songs, torch songs. The result is like a burning heart encased in crystalline block of ice. It’s as hot as you’d want it to be, and as cold as you can stand.

Brian J. Bowe writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].

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