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The North

4.4 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

New Stars album, 'The North', will be released September 4 on ATO Records. The album, which is the band's sixth full length, was recorded in Montreal's historic RCA Victor Studios and was produced by Stars, Graham Lessard and Marcus Paquin (Arcade Fire).
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 31, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: ATO Records
  • ASIN: B008KWHJMM
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,059 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ethan Straffin on September 22, 2012
Format: MP3 Music
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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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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Format: Audio CD
"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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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
I find it humorous that Amazon has "Stars" listed in the Alternative Genre. I happened upon this group via free download, and one of their songs with my Kindle Fire and Amazon Prime. If you were ever in a record store back in the 80's and asked one of the eployees "what IS that you are playing that is so bad ass?". You bought the album and the group became one of your favorites. THIS is one of those groups. The album is an eclectic variation of different types of music and sounds, from modern electro infusions, to raw guitar and James Taylor esque ballads. That being said, each song seems to flow into the other througout the entire album. The pieces fit into a perfectley completed puzzle. I cannot wait to listen to some of their previously released albums, and will forever look forward to more from them. The songs are fresh, different, and there is really no genere for them to fit into. Alternative they are not. "Stars" they are, at least in my album collection.
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