The North


ATO Records, 2012

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Not to be confused with other bands who have the same name, the Stars we're talking about here are the highly praised Canadian indie rock outfit who have seen nominations for the Polaris and Juno awards, made the rounds on late night talk shows, and have seen placement on a ton of American TV. Though at their onset in the early 2000's, Stars was more focused on electronic-pop, as the years have passed, they shifted into more lush rock, though there are plenty of both ideas represented on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The North.

This is a disc that works together as a whole better than individual songs. The vast amount of layering and textures really plays in the band’s favor. They self-described this disc as more upbeat and optimistic than earlier release, and there is plenty of happy-go-lucky pop spirit and soaring choruses to back this claim. On the flipside, though, there are just as many soft moments of emotive tension – a place that Stars has visited with great success.

As always, the dual gender vocals of Torquil Campbell and Amy Milan are a highpoint of the album. The two have never sounded better together; “Walls” is their finest duet to date, using harps, choirs, and synth to illuminate the sound of heartbreak in song. The songs often take nods to the past: “Hold On When You Get Love And Let Go When You Give It” sounds very '80s, and “Backlines” goes back even further with a '70's rock vibe.  At other points, namely “Do You Want To Die Together,” there's even a fleeting ‘50s influence present.

Though this is very romantic listen in terms of subject matter, Stars does dabble in politics on “A Song Is A Weapon, ”where the band switches from sounding dreamy in a longing sense to nearly angry. Similarly, on “Through The Mines,” the band pauses from their synth-heavy melodies and moves into infectious guitar hooks.

The North is an album that doesn't drastically deviate from Stars’ prior work. But considering how accomplished their sophisticated take on dream pop meets indie rock meets buzzing dance rock has been across all five previous releases, I don't think many people are going to have a problem with that – myself included.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2013 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of ATO Records, and is used for informational purposes only.