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The North
Format: Audio CDChange
Price:$9.99+Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2012
I must say that, while I've enjoyed Stars's music for the past few years, I've never quite wanted to pick them up and give them a big collective hug until now. More than ever, it's as though someone took all those old Smiths records and doused them with buzzy synths, pizzicato strings, a little tasteful distortion, and is that a trombone?...yes, yes it is. You might not THINK that this sounds like the greatest thing in the world, but let me assure you that it's reasonably close. It's also not to imply that the result is derivative: while the influences of this band or that jump right out here and there, Stars still manage to sound like nobody else but Stars. The fact that their upcoming local show is the same night as the Big Football Rivalry suddenly presents a dire dilemma for this listener. (I'm sure it'll sell out regardless, as it should.)

Favorite songs after the first half-dozen listens: "The Theory of Relativity," "Hold On...," "A Song is a Weapon," "The 400," and "Walls." Those who say that the album falls off in the second half are entitled to their opinion, but for the record, they are silly people and not to be trusted.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2012
I enjoyed parts of Five Ghosts simply because I like dark, moody music. But the problem was that it was far too repetitive. The opening track repeated the same line over and over, with more of the album following suit. To say I was nervous about The North would be an understatement.

Thankfully, I had no reason to be nervous. This is a terrific album that holds up well through multiple listenings. My favorite Stars album is still In Our Bedroom After the War, but The North comes very, very close. "The Theory of Relativity" opens up the album well and it only gets better. "Through the Mines" is an absolutely gorgeous track that I had to listen to five times before making my way through the rest of the album. Amy Millan's vocals are as good as ever and the soft background music is stunning. "The Loose Ends Will Make Knots" is another stunning song with terrific vocal work by Millan and Torquil Campbell, which is nothing new if your familiar with Stars. "A Song is a Weapon" is a very fun number, despite the obvious darker lyrics. This is another track I had to listen to multiple times during my first run with this album.

Overall, this is a fun album and one that deserves many playbacks.

Favorite tracks:
Through the Mines
The Loose Ends Will Make Knots
A Song is a Weapon
Do You Want to Die Together?
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2012
"Take the weakest thing in you, and then beat the bastards with it" (from "Hold On When You Get Love")

I was introduced to this band with their "Heart" album back in 2003, which I practically wore out, so I bought the earlier "Comeback EP" and "Nightsongs" discs, and promptly played them to death too. 2005 brought the superlative "Set Yourself On Fire"--which has yet to leave my iPod--and gets my vote for one of the best of the decade. Then came "In Our Bedroom After The War", which I didn't love, and then "Five Ghosts", which I dismissed when it came out, but has grown to be one of my favorites.

I'm pleased to say that "The North" ranks among their best.

Here are the standouts:

1. "Theory Of Relativity" - Stars does electronica dance music. Great track played loud. (Vocals: Torq Campbell)

2. "Backlines" - Guitar-driven indie pop, perfect for the Pitchfork crowd. (Vocals: Amy Millan)

3. "The North" - Heartbreaking in that uniquely Canadian bleak sorta way. Best song on the album. This one reminds me more of Memphis, Torq Campbell's other band. (Vocals: Torq Campbell)

4. "Hold On When You Get Love" - Stars channels New Order. Another one to play loud for the dance floor. (Vocals: Torq Campbell/Amy Millan)

5. & 6. "Through The Mines" & "Lights Changing Colour"- Stars channels Cocteau Twins. Both superb. If you heard these on the radio, you'd swear it was Elizabeth Fraser, Robin Guthrie & Company. (Vocals: Amy Millan)

7. "The Loose Ends Will Make Knots" - Exactly what you'd expect from Stars based on their earliest albums. This one could have been an outtake from "Heart" or "Set Yourself On Fire" (Vocals: Torq Campbell/Amy Millan)

8. "Progress" - Electronica dancer reminiscent of Goldfrapp. (Vocals: Amy Millan)

It's only been out a week and I know it'll be on my Best Of 2012 list.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2012
Stars' last album FIVE GHOSTS received a mixed reaction from fans and critics alike. The band's approach towards embracing their overtly pop sensibilities ended up watering down some of the Montreal group's music. Their new release, THE NORTH, fairs a bit better, and it's a step in a new direction for the band. Stars continually tinkers with their sound with each release, and THE NORTH is no different -- this album finds the band with a little less synthesizers and a little more interplay between vocalists Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan.

The album begins with one of its best feet forward: "Theory of Relativity" is a great straight-forward pop-rock song with a strong melody. Duet "Do You Want to Die Together?" also serves as a highlight with Campbell and Millan's vocals making for great interplay. "The 400" works as a nice ballad that is mainly composed of Campbell's vocals/lyrics and a piano accompaniment. The album ends with "Walls," a more electronic song (compared to the rest of these songs), and it's a nice shift in texture from the previous "The 400." The song's distorted synth carries the rhythm, and the Campbell/Millan harmonies sound effortless.

THE NORTH is a good album, but it doesn't quite meet the same heights of some of their early work (like 2004's SET YOURSELF ON FIRE). However, the band never fails to craft a solid pop song -- the only thing that is missing is memorable melodies. I would recommend this band to fans of Passion Pit, Metric, or Death Cab for Cutie, but I would recommend starting with some of the earlier material before diving into this one. Nevertheless, THE NORTH serves a decent enough starting point for new listeners. Essential tracks to sample/download: "The Theory of Relativity," "Do You Want To Die Together?" and "Walls."
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2012
In my opinion, this album is their best and I do mean better than "Set Yourself On Fire". To be completely honest they revived my faith in their music. This could be the best album of the entire year. There is a cohesive feeling throughout the entire album that weaves between synthesizer dance tracks, lush indie rock and some throw-back eighties influences like New Order and Crowded House. I preached "Set Yourself On Fire" for years but I'm floored by the music to "The North". You won't be disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2012
I love it! I really enjoyed their last one, The Five Ghosts, but this one outshines it. Now just hoping they play near me so I can see them live again!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2012
I first heard this song on Spotify and loved it, so I decided to order it on vinyl. The price is pretty decent, compared to other albums. When I opened the box for the first time, I was not expecting it to be a beautiful blue colored vinyl. It spins great and has a great collection of songs, including beautiful album art and a digital download code. I prefer side A of the album, but side B is good also.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2012
I recommend this album if you like any of the previous Stars albums. Also, if you like pop, indie, rock, etc then I also recommend it. It's got great lyrics and melodies that take plenty of unexpected turns. One of my favorite albums this year, and possibly one of my favorite of all time.
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on March 26, 2014
Stars do it again. Listen to the layers of joy and pain woven into fantastic breathtaking sound. A beautiful album. BJM Toronto Canada
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on January 22, 2014
Heard the one song, "Hold On When You Get Love ..." and decided to get the CD. Wonderful mix of bright, uplifting music played by talented musicians. Doesn't disappoint.
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