Album Review: “No One Is Lost” by Stars

Album Review: No One Is Lost by Stars

Canadian indie-pop band shines at the discotheque with its eighth studio album.

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Rating: 4.0/5.0
Release Date: Oct. 14

“All the kids in the band want you to know that we do love you madly.” It’s 1959, and the swing-bandleader Duke Ellington, in his comforting, rich bass voice, is addressing his listeners at a Stockholm concert.

It’s a strange thing to sample at the beginning of a 21st-century rock song infused with the buzz of a synthesizer. But it’s a quote that Stars has embodied for the almost 15 years that they’ve been on the international indie scene. Tirelessly rewarding its fans with one full-length album after another since its inception, the Canadian group has proven to be both resilient and eclectic. Stars’ newest offering “No One Is Lost” manages to stay fresh and modern with its electronica sound, but also paradoxically waxes nostalgic with both upbeat ’70s dance music and melancholic baroque pop, like that of the critically acclaimed 2004 album “Set Yourself On Fire.”

Beyond this well-crafted mix of genres, what truly gives Stars its signature sparkle is the hushed, soft-spoken vocals of lead singers Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell, both veterans of renowned indie ensemble Broken Social Scene. With gentle wisdom tucked into their lyrics and singing, Millan and Campbell’s duets have proven that pop music doesn’t have to be loud or bombastic; vocals don’t have to compete with instrumentals.

The group of Canadian musicians takes a peppy turn in its latest full-length. Photo used with permission from Shervin Lainez via Shore Fire,
The group of Canadian musicians takes a peppy turn in its latest full-length. Photo used with permission from Shervin Lainez via Shore Fire,

Yet on the surface, “No One Is Lost” seems to be the exception to their usual lyrical style as an album that lacks some of the narrative quality in Millan and Campbell’s vocal and writing talents that had made “Set Yourself On Fire” so poignant. Perhaps that can be owed to the overproduction of many of the tracks — lyricism appears to give way to heady beats that yearn to burst their way out of the coffeehouse and into the club. “From the Night,” the lead single, encapsulates this issue; with repetitive lines and sonic extrovertedness that stretch for almost seven minutes, it’s easy to overlook its poetry.

But upon careful examination, one can find that Stars is just doing what its always done: capture a whole story in a few minutes — a story that can be interpreted in numerous ways. “From the Night,” for example, can be about heartbreak or the apocalypse (or even both). Lyricism aside, Stars does make new strides sonically, creating irresistibly catchy tunes with addicting guitar and bass riffs on tracks like “Trap Door” and “This Is The Last Time.” But it’s the airy, whimsical lyrics perfectly complemented with the acoustic rock sounds on “Turn It Up” that serve as the band’s implicit love letter to the fans who came to adore Stars’ literate, irrepressible nature. It’s no surprise that the introduction of that track was Ellington himself, along with his fitting quote.

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