Review Summary: Oh, Canada...
When I walk outside in the early summer there’s a scent that flows and when my eyes are closed I remember lying somewhere softer, with someone better. Part of this is a memory, some of it hope. Another part of its lost and that’s been your quest this whole life; just to feel it out all over again. Canadian Indie-Alternative group Stars sophomore effort Heart is an album filled with just that, and it stands for more too. It’s an album brimming with nationality or perhaps simply a sense of place so strong I like to associate it with home.
The album sweeps in with ‘What the Snowman Learned about Love’ and it becomes abrasively clear from the introduction of Torquil Campbell, Amy Milan, Chris Seligman and crew that this album requires a soft approach. No, it’s probably not the ideal party tune; more something to keep you recognizing the bizarre love found in life, catching the arrays of strings softening the synth waves. The influence is undeniably Canadian, but then again that statement could also be biased being Canadian myself. Regardless, fans of Broken Social Scene, Metric, Sam Roberts or Fiest will find familiar elements to latch onto. It’s in the use of maritime instruments like easing violins and then exotic multicultural sounds that create, emotionally, a big experience.
Heart introduces singer Amy Milan to the mix and her presence truly completes the band. Stars have a remarkable talent for harmonizing their deeply layered sounds with two strong singers teasing out stronger lyrics. Often each track is a small story or a microcosm of a life or love and it’s moments in given places. The title track ‘Heart’ has this in spades and ‘Elevator love Letter’ sings like a true summer classic.
It’s tough to review this album without bias simply because it’s such an evocative album. Even if you’re only sold on two tracks of the eleven they’ll stick with you and eventually emanate beyond the disdain of the other songs. And that statement isn’t to prepare listeners for bland filling; not at all. But at the same time there is also no denying stars has a certain knack for inconsistent flow in their albums and Heart is no exception. It’s not that any song is weak or out of place per-se, more so that the tone shifts song to song create a pretty wide array of emotions to scale. The jump between dreamy ‘The Woods’ and the psychedelic tinged ‘Death to Death’ is undeniably rough when listening to the full LP. For some this could be a turn off but it can also be attributed to the overall quirkiness of Stars and it’s not always a bad thing.
This album had such a profound effect on me, offering a lot of hope. It showed me how to use the beauty in your life to see through the dark truths that necessarily exist. Stars are the kind of group that makes you happy about being a little sad because they find a way to lift something so profound out of it. You can be sad but feel yourself working normally, as a human. In that I have to recommend Heart to anyone in search of an album that will stir or resonate deeply and if you already love Stars as much as I do, just go back and listen to it again now.