Stars, Heart

‘I am Evan and this is my heart.’

‘I am Amy and this is my heart.’

‘I am Chris, this is my heart.’

‘I am Torq, this is my heart.’

And that’s how Heart, the newest album from Montreal’s Stars, begins. The overall effect of the album could leave you with just that—‘this is my heart.’ Altogether, it’s totally emotive, soul-baring, wrenching, etc. It’s really very embarrassing, although it seems to play off pretty well in social gatherings. All because it’s just that kind of music—challenging enough to turns heads, to make people recall other things they really like—My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Lush, The Breeders, and others.

It’s really the second song on the album, ‘Elevator Love Letter,’ where things really take off, where you hit BACK, BACK, BACK over and over, all day long (just hit it right then, no lie). It’s a brilliant song, really, and it centers around the boring office life, then hanging out with friends, trying to deal with relationships, and working too late. Lyrical content like that is rare at best, and here it’s done to unforgettable, like I know exactly what you mean when you say that, effect.

And then that’s pretty much it, like hitting a brick wall.

The main drawback of Heart is that it can’t sustain the aggressive gambit it lays down on the first two tracks. ‘What the Snowman Learned about Love’ and ‘Elevator Love Letter’ are just simply too good, and the rest of the album doesn’t keep it up. That said, the rest of the album is still better than most anything else that’s been released this year—and it’s an amenable blend of modern stylings and ‘80s guitar/keyboard pop akin to, say, The Dream Academy. Not bad by any means, and certainly lovely in every sense of the word, but not pushing the envelope enough to break any kind of ground.

Altogether, it’s really back to back, two incredible songs, worth the effort, and worth recognition not for the album as a whole, but for those singular achievements. And no matter how listenable and somewhat really really good the rest of the album really really is, it never meets the grandeur of its leadoff tracks.


Andrew Womack is a founding editor of The Morning News. He is always working on the next installment of the Albums of the Year series at TMN. More by Andrew Womack

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