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CD of The Week

Week of 5/30/22

    Stars - From Capelton Hill (Last Gang)

    Many bands who've now been together for 20+ years are currently reflecting on their youthful days and keeping a watchful eye on the ever-present curse of time. Add on the stress of a global pandemic, and these musings can become more acerbic. Thankfully on their latest album From Capelton Hill, Canada’s Stars equally acknowledge the finite while relishing the rewards of life. Over nine albums, they have developed a profound comfort with exploring the haunts as much as they do the dancefloor. Here the sextet proudly displays the charms of their brand of well-crafted indie rock, chamber-pop, and 80's-influenced new wave over 12 beautiful odes to life, love, and death.

    The most notable distinction of Stars is the shared vocals of Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell, exquisitely complementing each other at every turn. Whether it's a passionate call and response, or simply just harmonizing, their vocal play brings to life the sweeping imagery within their lyrics. Together their voices yearn for adolescence on "Pretenders," realizing that "We were the best of the pretenders, all our bets on being young forever." On the stunning acoustic closer "Snowy Owl," Millan sympathetically observes "You don't look the same, you look older." Later, Campbell respectively responds "You don't sound the same, you sound stronger." It's an incredibly touching moment between lovers who've stood the test of time.

    Stars' tried and true forays into melodic dance-pop are the tunes that usually garner them the most airplay, and tracks like "Pretenders," "Build A Fire," and "If I Never See London Again" are no exception. However, a few subtler gems make their mark here, proving Stars have been old souls since the beginning. On "Patterns," Millan recognizes the thunder and lightning of relationships: "If I could count up every mile we passed, How did we even make this last." A solo piano introduces the gorgeous title track "Capelton Hill," an epic ballad of renewal told through the recurring act of a summer home closure. Opening track "Palmistry," adorned with a lovely string arrangement, is a hopeful, yet futile attempt at reaching out for a long-lost love.  

    Setting themselves apart from their Canadian contemporaries (less twee than Alvvays, more nuanced than Metric), Stars still hasn't made it as big as they deserve, but after nearly 25 years, they've become comfortable with bestowing the fruits of their labor on those who truly desire and appreciate them.
    Review by Dave Lindquist

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