Canada must be one of the greatest countries in the world for rock music. In the past few years, we've heard excellent releases from Canadian bands such as Broken Social Scene, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, The Arcade Fire and now Stars. In truth, 'Set Yourself on Fire' is the third release from Stars and follows up their excellent sophomore effort, "Heart".
Torquil Campbell - Vocals, Keyboards and Trumpet
Amy Millan - Vocals, Guitar
Evan Cranley - Bass, Guitar, Trombone
Chris Seligman - Keyboards, Programming, French Horn
Boasting members of Broken Social Scene and hailing as an indie band from Canada, Stars were well on their way to greatness. The group's last record, "Heart" was a great album and "Set Yourself On Fire" builds upon the success of "Heart". Like many indie bands, Stars focus on creating enjoyable music that is good for both the mind and the emotions. With "Set Yourself On Fire", Stars create and excellent sound, one that is upbeat, catchy and fun, while still being clever. The band are all good musicians and every member appears on at least two instruments. Though they may not seem to be the most subtle band (much of this album includes epic string arrangements, brass parts and huge keyboard sounds), it is often the subtlties of songs that make them what they are. For example, "One More Night" doesn't truly develop until a small background electronic noise enters the song. While it may not sound like much, it is what makes the song. "Set Yourself On Fire" boasts cover art that bears an uncanny resembelence to "The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place", the latest album from Explosions In The Sky. While it is remarkably similar, it is nonetheless effective and makes an impact.
The album's artwork can be compared to the music. While it is not overly original or unique and owes a lot to a range of influences, Stars create their own sound and use it to great effect. After all, what matters on an album such as this is not originality, but how effective the songs are. Stars prodly wear their influences on their sleeves, the whole album smells of Simon and Garfunkel or The Pet Shop Boys while songs like "Sleep Tonight" are obvious tributes to My Bloody Valentine. This album is a good representation of the last 15 years in Indie. There is even a progressive song; "The Big Fight" (one of the album's best songs) changes mid-song in a manner similar to David Gray's "Please Forgive Me". The biggest criticism with "Set Yourself On Fire" is it's length. Being an album of 13 songs, there are some tracks that really don't need to be there. All the same, these songs are by no means bad or boring, it's just that the album would work better with say, 9 or 10 songs, rather than a whole 13. All in all, Stars create some excellent indie songs with their own sound. It's all here, the shoegaze type production, the pretty female vocals, the soft male vocals, the catchy riffs and basslines and the cool drumming. "Set Yourself On Fire" is, without a doubt, one of the best albums of the year.
- Great use of instruments
- Catchy songs
- A good mix of sounds
- The "filler"
Set Yourself On Fire
One More Night
FINAL RATING: 4/5