Stars
In Our Bedroom After The War


4.0
excellent

Review

by Adam Knott EMERITUS
July 6th, 2009 | 18 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Wake up; say good morning to / that sleepy person lying next to you / and if there's no one there, then there's no one there / but at least the war is over.

One of the criticisms often hurled at accessible music, especially that to be found on the radio, is the degree to which it feels manufactured. And it's certainly true in many respects; the type of pop that appeals to the lowest common denominator is, while often commercially intelligent, usually far from deserving of artistic praise. There is, however, another group consisting of albums that feel well deliberated over, and they serve as proof that there is no need to abandon real emotion or instinct in order to construct a record which can actually maintain a common thread or idea and appeal to a wide audience. Stars' In Your Bedroom After The War is one such release; at once both hopelessly romantic and carefully crafted, it never feels awkward despite the many self-imposed opportunities to trip and fall.

It's the kind of feeling that starts with the opening track's spoken-word introduction; a poem, delivered with fragile conviction, which asks, "will we wake in the morning, and know what it was for?" There are no live vocals on the first song, which is a bass-heavy electronic-dominated instrumental for the most part, and the first time you hear the sweet vocals of Amy Millan, there's nothing instantly remarkable about the song or either vocalist. Bedroom takes a while to get started, but its opening trio of songs builds towards the first chorus of Take Me To The Riot, and from there the record takes flight; the soft dual vocals, mellow electronics and subtle nuances coax you in and before you're even aware of it, you're singing along.

And what's most impressive about Bedroom is that with repeated listens it all does become remarkable; it's incredible, for example, how such understated voices as Millan's and Torquil Campbell can hold so much power and diversity; on Barricade, Campbell's experience as a musical performer comes to the fore in a piano ballad which wouldn't be too far out of place in Les Mis - it's one of the only tracks on Bedroom that could be called predictable, lacking the sudden change in tempo, vocalist or atmosphere that serves to keep the rest of the album fresh, but that also serves to bring everything down to earth slightly. On My Favourite Book, Millan is typically soothing and heartwarming as she croons a straight-up love song. Together, they provide some absolute gems of romantic, heartstring-tugging lyricism. As Midnight Coward's instrumentation drops to just a piano, the track gradually builds to a crescendo behind which lies the line, "what can't be decided, can fool you into thinking maybe you can choose."

It's the mixture of distinctly human and vulnerable sentiments like this, the melodic and pop sensibilities that are a constant pleasure, and a plethora of sudden changes in direction, that render this album so infinitely listenable. Personal, the only track to feature real dialogue between the two vocalists, comes out of absolutely nowhere; it's tender, emotional, and incredibly realistic, which after the repetition of Genova Heights is designed to calm everything down. The violin in My Favourite Book's bridge, the undisguised variety from track to track, unexpected drum fills, and rapid explosions or lulls in tracks are the tools that Stars use to remain interesting; they stay accessible, calming and beautiful by virtue of superb pop songwriting and their ability to hit you right where it hurts, but there's also enough momentum and detail to ensure it never gets dull or mediocre.

In Our Bedroom After The War is hardly a concept album, but the point is that it sort of knows that; the common thread that it holds is more musical than lyrical. The title track, which closes the record, reminds you that sometimes there is solace to be found in the fact that there are no wars to be fought. Whether that's literal or not isn't made clear, but it seems far more likely it's a reference to the trials and tribulations of Bedroom's characters, and the release of it all being over with. It's not flawless, and there are lulls in quality (notably Window Bird and Life 2: The Unhappy Ending), but the imperfections add character to the cyclic beats, and the flaws rarely prevent a song's climax from reaching some kind of nerve or vital organ. Whether that's your head, your heart or your feet is entirely dependent on the type of person you are, but you can rest assured that if your tastes include indie-pop, dual vocals and some of the prettiest music around, In Our Bedroom After The War is a must-listen.



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user ratings (138)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
July 6th 2009


16240 Comments


Great review. I want to check this out now.

Knott-
Emeritus
July 6th 2009


10198 Comments


cheers man. review was strangely tough to write but i like how it came out. i also evidently like this record. one of the most subtly moving albums i've heard.

YouAreMySilence
July 6th 2009


3727 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The Night Starts Here and Take Me To The Riot are amazing, but the rest is not as amazing. Still excellent though.

Willie
Moderator
July 6th 2009


16240 Comments


The rest couldn't be too bad if you've rated it a "4"

Knott-
Emeritus
July 6th 2009


10198 Comments


what he said

i also think TNSH is one of the weaker tracks, although in its position on the track listing it's immensely effective.

Waior
July 6th 2009


11516 Comments


Argh, I still haven't checked this out. Deepest apologies. Review is a great reminder and an excellent review (I'm not surprised).

BallsToTheWall
July 6th 2009


45140 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Amazing album. Nice review.

Digging: Aelter - IV: Love Eternal

Knott-
Emeritus
July 6th 2009


10198 Comments


cheerz boysngirls. caleb how have you not gotten to this yet!!

AtavanHalen
July 7th 2009


17927 Comments


AND LET ME STAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYY

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
July 7th 2009


21957 Comments


Another fantastic review Adam. You're writing is getting better & better. Contributor status is definitely calling.

Oh & I'm unsure I'd like this. Sounds more indie than pop. What's the hook meter out of 100?

Digging: Westkust - Last Forever

Knott-
Emeritus
July 7th 2009


10198 Comments


Thanks Daveyyyyyy

Ohhhh there are hooks everywhere. EVERYWHERE. It's like a Peter Pan bad-guy-fest.



TheGoddamnBatman
July 7th 2009


404 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Very well written, Adam. Sometimes I found it odd how much our tastes are alike.





Stars are one of those underrated bands that I was talking about the other day. This record is nothing

short of amazing. Anyone that is into Lydia should try this band and know how much this band is

fucking better. Even though the Lydia's chick is hotter.

AtavanHalen
July 7th 2009


17927 Comments


You're writing is getting better & better.

Not sure you should be the judge of that...

Knott-
Emeritus
July 7th 2009


10198 Comments


haha, glad somebody else pointed that out :p

yeah batman this is one of those records that i checked out on a whim and was rewarded immensely. they have a new record this year, and i can't wait to hear it.

TheGoddamnBatman
July 7th 2009


404 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

THEY HAVE A NEW RECORD THIS YEAR?!!!!!!!!!!!!! FUCKYOU FAINT



X

Knott-
Emeritus
July 7th 2009


10198 Comments


s'what metacritic told me

TheGoddamnBatman
July 7th 2009


404 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is just in: #2 most anticipated record of the year. Right next to Thrice - Beggars. You made my

tuesday, sir.

Willie
Moderator
July 7th 2009


16240 Comments


It has a little more of an indie vibe than I expected, but after one listen it's not bad... 3/3.5 so far.



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