Reviews Music Stars — The Five Ghosts

Stars — The Five Ghosts

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Stars - The Five Ghosts
StarsThe Five Ghosts
Soft Revolution; 2010
11 Tracks; CD, LP, Digital Download

 

Review by: Whitney Pineault

The wait is finally over for Stars fans as Montreal's celebrated indie rock quintet returns with The Five Ghosts, the band's first full-length album since 2007's Polaris Prize nominee In Our Bedroom After The War.

Released on Stars' own label, Soft Revolution Records, the album debuts a less-rock-more-synth approach which ultimately grows more enthralling with each spin. Its ghostly theme was conceptualized from keyboardist Chris Seligman's mysterious haunting at a Vancouver bed & breakfast. The experience spooked Seligman enough to flee in the middle of the night to a nearby hotel. As a result, The Five Ghosts is swimming with wistful arrangements and gentle vocals which when combined, fashion some of Stars best work to date.

A haunted exchange surrounds "Dead Hearts" which kicks off the album to great affect and sets the tone for what is to follow. Vocalists Amy Milan and Torquil Campbell harmonize dreamily throughout the song's chorus on top of a mournful display of strings. One of Stars' greatest strengths is their ability to pair dark lyrical content with catchy pop melodies. "I Died So I Could Haunt You" provides the perfect example and is an obvious album high-point. Milan's soft vocals follow on "Fixed"and blend perfectly with the song's light composition.

"We Don't Want Your Body" and "He Dreams He's Awake" are heavy on both synth and programmed drums; the latter (which is an ode to Seligman's haunting) though quite the departure for the band, feels much like a lost track from M83's Saturdays = Youth might. Not that that is a bad thing. However, just as most of Stars' previous albums, the momentum gradually begins to stall as the end becomes near. "The Last Song Ever Written" claims The Five Ghosts' only filler spot before "How Much More" comes to the rescue with Milan's beautifully serene vocals and quick tempo; another clear favourite.

What makes Stars a great band is that they don't try to recreate what has already been done. Each album embraces a fresh new approach and never have two of their albums sounded closely alike. The Five Ghosts is no exception. Admittedly, it does have its weak points, but the good highly exceeds the bad.

Toronto fans have a couple of opportunities to catch the band live this summer/fall. First, on July 24th at 6:30pm, Stars will be at HMV's 272 Queen St. W location for a special in-store performance and autograph session. A full set can be heard on October 23rd when the band plays the prestigious Massey Hall. Tickets are now on sale at Ticketmaster — I would suggest grabbing them sooner rather than later as I'm expecting this show to sell out.

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