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In Our Bedroom After The War
In Our Bedroom... is a solid indie pop collection, but, a couple of gems aside, it’s far from Stars’ best work.
John Walshe, 17 Aug 2007
Canada’s other indie supergroup may have been eclipsed by the sizeable shadow of Arcade Fire over the last couple of years – their last album, Set Yourself On Fire was a sleeping masterpiece – but on their fourth LP, the Canadians have gone widescreen.
Whereas Arcade Fire seem to have embraced stadium-friendly Springsteen-isms, Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell’s mob have opted for a pristine indie pop sound that seems designed for an assault on the charts. It's all the more disappointing then, that it fails to hit the shuddering heights they’re capable of with anything like regularity.
The biggest string to this quintet’s gargantuan bow remains the delicate vocal interplay between Millan and Campbell (who also moonlight in Broken Social Scene, along with bassist Evan Cranley). Their duets are utilised to great effect throughout In Our Bedroom After The War, from the epic ’80s-esque album opener proper, ‘The Night Starts Here’, to the deliciously warm and fuzzy ballad ‘Personal’, a late night love song par excellence.
At times, In Our Bedroom... verges on easy listening: the light and fluffy ‘My Favourite Book’ or the ineffective white soul leanings of ‘The Ghost Of Genova Heights’ being perfect examples. On other occasions, however, we see a darkness behind the whimsy, such as the elegiac torch-song ‘Barricade’ (Depeche Mode meets Nick Cave), the angry ‘Life 2: The Unhappy Ending’, all unfulfilled ambition and wasted dreams, or the esoteric electronica of ‘Today Will Be Better, I Swear’.
Elsewhere, there’s the ridiculously upbeat ‘Take Me To The Riot’, which, despite its title, isn’t an invitation to anarchy but a deliciously catchy love song. ‘Midnight Coward’ begins like the finest song Cat Power never wrote, mutates into a Divine Comedy-esque pop masterpiece, and ends up as one of Stars’ most fully explored efforts to date, and that’s saying something, considering this is the band who gave us the breath-taking ‘Calendar Girl’. The closing title-track, meanwhile, is a lush orchestral epic, all sweeping strings and bittersweet melancholy.