Across their discography Stars have mastered the art of the big song – not necessarily bombastic, but big; everything tied up nicely, and niftily at that. The approaches may have been different – No One Is Lost, their last record, went the disco route – but that was the template. That makes There Is No Love in Fluorescent Light a striking affair: it sounds more quiet, more hesitant, more tentative. Nope, this is not a bad thing. It’s actually an interesting progression for the Canadian group: after albums of relative up comes one that’s thematically unsure about its place, and yet manages to be confident about it. It’s partly down to the decision to enlist Peter Katis – best known for his long-running relationship with the National – as sole producer. Now, a band normally known for its exuberance sounds more muted, more grown-up (not that they aren’t before), allowing for Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell’s voices to play better. Their interplay, after all, has always been the thread that held Stars’ many approaches together – and it’s smart that it was kept, if not enhanced. There Is No Love In Fluorescent Light is quite… smart that way. [NB] | 4/5
Hello. Niko here. Our review of the GoodVybes Festival, which took place last Saturday, would be a little different than we envisaged. We planned an essay of observations for the first major (arguably) music festival of 2016. We had a man on the ground: one of our contributing writers, Dexter Tan, bought tickets, making good on his vow to see Chvrches once and for all. And he was there.
Yep, another list of my ten favorite songs of the year. And it’s just that: my ten favorites of the year. While there is an attempt to weave what is clearly a very personal list into some narrative defining the past year, it will most likely not work as much as it should. That said, there were a lot of interesting songs in the past twelve months, and some of my favorite acts went back with some new bits, too. People went quiet; people went retro; people went organic. So there’s that. I don’t know about you, but this is my year in music, sorted in alphabetical order, although you’re likely to guess what I’m biased towards… that’s just the whole nature of it, yes? We’ll be on a two-week holiday break, and we’ll be back with new entries on 5 January. Hopefully. And now, the list. [NB]
Stars is very much a chameleon. Their albums have swung from bright indie pop to straightforward guitar rock to melancholic chamber pop, and now with their latest album, No One Is Lost, the Canadian quintet heads to the dance floor. Their eighth full-length record seems to document the highs and lows of a night out, and the tracklisting – the surprisingly disco-flavored stomp of “From The Night”, the come down of “Are You OK?” the spike back up of the title track – suggests the natural ebb and flow of a night going well, going wrong, and salvaged. Yes, there’s still that emotional heft, Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell individually drilling down the underlying loneliness of the album – that haze you get in the middle of everybody’s happiness. So, yes, No One Is Lost is a sad album, but it is also a hopeful album. The disco will throw you off, might even turn you off, but it is still your typical Stars album underneath. [NB] | 4/5
“From The Night” by Stars | Since we’ve been giving extra attention to Stars in the past few months, it’s worth mentioning that they will have a new album out. No One Is Lost, the Canadian band’s seventh studio album, will hit stores in October, and this song – a minimalist take on disco, if there’s such a thing – is the first taste of it. I like the blasts. I like how quiet it is for most of the song, because the chorus kicks in and disco! And then not. But no. Disco! [NB]