not a member? click here to sign up
“Haunting”, “spectral” and “ethereal” were all placed on the Prohibited Journalistic Words List in 1991 after being attached to the point of parody to every shoegaze outfit that floppy-fringed their way into the lower reaches of the indie chart.
Stuart Clark, 02 Sep 2010
It’s a shame because they perfectly sum up Five Ghosts, the new record by bittersweet Montreal popsters Stars who’ve an opening day appointment with the Picnic masses.
While not, gulp, a ‘concept album’ per se, its 11 tracks were, as singer Amy Millan puts it, “informed” by a tragic event which occurred when they were in the studio.
“Torquil’s father Douglas – who we all knew and loved – passed away fairly early on in the recording process, so that definitely affected the mood of the record. How deeply I don’t think we’ll really know until a year or two’s time when everything that’s happened recently has sunk in.
“I wouldn’t want people to think it’s a depressing record though – in among the sadness there’s lots of hope and joy and beauty.”
With descriptive powers like that Ms. Millan, you really ought to be a music journalist! The Torquil she’s referring to is Torquil Campbell, the Stars co-founder who also had the happier task of welcoming his first son into the world last year.
“Yeah, he’s become fully acquainted with the joys of nappy-changing,” Amy laughs. “Like I say, there’s a real range of emotions on Five Ghosts, as there have been on all of our records. We’ve already had a lot of people get in contact and say, ‘I’ve lived that song myself’, which is a massive compliment to be paid.
“People connecting to our music like that is one of the main reasons we don’t do commercials. If somebody tells you that they’ve just survived chemotherapy by listening to ‘Calendar Girl’ (from Stars’ fabulous 2004 Set Yourself On Fire album) every day, you can’t go selling it to PayLess Shoes!”
Canada has been held up as a glowing example of a country that nurtures its musical talent, but the reality, insists Millan, is very different.
“There’s a quota of Canadian music that radio stations here have to play, sure, but that just means you get to hear cookie-cutter stuff like Celine Dion and Shania Twain every 20 minutes. The chances of Stars getting daytime play on a big commercial station is zero. You probably wouldn’t hear Arcade Fire either, and look how insanely big they’ve become. The fact that ourselves, Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene are now being acknowledged everywhere from Manila to Madrid is entirely down to the internet.”