Album Review: Stars – The Five Ghosts

By on Thursday, 17th June 2010 at 12:00 pm

Stars are an aptly glittery indie troupe hailing from the depths of Canada. This month sees the release of the band’s fifth album, ‘The Five Ghosts’ – follow up to 2007’s ‘In Our Bedroom After the War’. The record, according to front lady Amy Millan, is “quintessential Stars” – so, perhaps the perfect album for a newcomer like myself to venture into. And venture in I did!

Track one, ‘Dead Hearts’, pretty much sets the standard for the whole album – exceedingly adorable electro, with lashings of surprises. This initial number is synth dalliance with completely cute girl-boy vocals plus a Delphic-esque uprising chorus. Track two, ‘Wasted Delight’ is evidence Stars have themselves a slightly sinister edge, too. The misplaced, jagged drumbeat and hopscotch harmonies sound intriguingly dark, perfectly complimenting the contrastingly sugary vocals of Amy Millan (of which particularly remind me of Ellie Goulding).

‘I Died So I Could Haunt You’s’ crescendo of smashing drums and thumping bass lean it towards a more heartfelt indie number Owl City would be proud of, while ‘Fixed’ got me up and dancing. Speedy cymbals, electric riffs, retro synths and yet more darling vocals from Millan – this feel-good track truly makes you feel like your reaching for the sun as you listen.

An album highlight is most certainly the beautifully titled ‘He Dreams He’s Awake’. This electronic number verges on psychedelic with it’s stormy opening led along by Torquil Campbell’s brooding whispers of “Sunrise, oh the sunrise, when will you ever come?”. Ultimately these hypnotic vocals fall into a black hole of breezy, ambient synths and 80s stylin’ echoed drums, resulting in a truly trippy track.

Further honourable mentions include the delicate strings and reverb vocals of ‘Changes’, the Brian Eno-esque ‘Winter Bones’, and finally the awesome ‘The Passenger’, which is laden with La Roux-ready gameboy synths and some notably Joy Division sounding percussion wacking away beneath.

My thoughts throughout this album were, “boy those canuks certainly seems bent on bringing us some awesome slices of electro pop this summer”. From the dainty synths of Metric to the crystallised electro of Stars, Canada is producing some awesome sounds right now. If you enjoy your music on the sweet side, check out ‘The Five Ghosts’. The album is truly endearing with it’s doll-like vocals and gliding, glittering synths. However, a complete sugar overdose is avoided thanks to those little unexpected touches placed amid the record, such as some hard hitting percussion, an off beat rhythm, or a psychedelic twist and turn. Stars’ ‘The Five Ghosts’ is truly sparkling album.

MP3: Stars – We Don’t Want Your Body


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8 Responses

8:41 am
19th June 2010

[…] Stars – We don’t want your Body […]

8:06 pm
28th June 2010

Can tell you’re into your mainstream pop with references to Ellie Goulding (ugh) and Owl City (pretty much one hit which is a Postal Service rip off anyway). Have a listen to Set Yourself on Fire next which is even better. Stars are in a completely different league to any band you reference here.

5:13 pm
30th June 2010

Tom – I am not into mainsteam pop, no. I am much more into 70s jazz funk techno prog, really. :).

However I use these references since they are not only apt, they are current and will be of appeal to our readers.

PS. Stars are great.

2:49 pm
4th July 2010

100% agree with Tom.

8:32 pm
27th July 2010

agree with Tom as well,

the reviewer sounds like she’d also have Lights and Vampire Weekend on her iPod too (ugh). Expand your mind noob.

11:53 am
28th July 2010

Your Comments

would you have preffered her to name some really obscure bands, that only you know, because of your oh so precious listening tastes. Chances are all of you have them on your ipods, or wait , do you still use walkmans ‘cus ipods are just soooooo mainstream’ douchebags. great review

5:08 pm
28th July 2010

uhh ok rory…? we’re not asking for obscure bands, just bands more relevant to the style and genre of Stars without having to make generalizations to more mainstream acts which in fact have little in common with Stars, comparisons for the sake of making comparisons can only lead to false impressions. Calm down man, there is no need for your repressed anger here.

2:43 pm
30th July 2010

Jojo – that was some anger aimed at me, though..

A) I don’t have an iPod

B) I’ve never listened to a single Lights song

C) I quite like Vampire Weekend, yes

D) Stars isn’t in line with my taste. Like I said. I’m into more 70’s rock jazz funk. Obscure enough? Seriously, I have so much Zappa on vinyl…But I gave this album a shot. Like I said in the review, I am new to Stars. However, I was completely impressed by their work. I have to draw comparisons between artists, especially with a band like this who are yet to achieve huge recognition here in the UK.

E) When one makes a comparison with another, does not mean they like the artist they are stating. I, for example, cannot stand Owl City, however, the similarities were undeniable amid that track.

F) (This is a long list). Stars went out their way to post this on their Twitter. So if the main-man digs it, I’m happy.

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