Review Summary: Nostalgia gets the best of Stars this time around.No One Is Lost’s
retro pop sound is a fitting soundtrack to adolescent nights at the local roller rink. The faint melodies combined with the male and female vocal dynamic makes for a winning combination some of the time. While instantly accessible the records’s synths are quite subtle making for a relaxed and easygoing first listen. The guitar driven dance pop found on Star’s latest outing never stands out, its only purpose being to lay the groundwork for all the bittersweet synths or melancholic vocal deliveries utilized by the band’s co lead singers, but background music can only go so far. Without its supplement material, No One Is Lost
fails to stand on it’s own.
The chilled out synths can be grandiose on bombastic on certain choruses like on “Trap Door”, but overall they are pretty middling. The production waters down any distinctive aspects of the instrumentation on the album. Like the saxophone used on the track previously mentioned is obviously a sax, but they just had to take away any distinctive or intriguing aspects in order to compliment the understated synths. It’s as if they’re afraid of being anything but background music, never wanting to stand out or have its time in the limelight. When everything sounds so similar there isn’t much for the listener to take away. The drumming on this album while also soft and understated keeps the beat well, and often outshines the other musical aspects found here.
Lyrically, the album is very optimistic, fondly describing nights spent clubbing while chasing young love. At times profound and often spontaneous, No One Is Lost’s
lyrics are more intelligent than your average dance club fodder and should be praised accordingly. Lead vocalists Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan play off each other fine, but they could have done so much more. When they are singing the same note with no differences in key signatures, their contrasting vocal ranges never really result in a memorable harmony. Neither singer gives it their all, vocally during any point of the album. No One’s Lost
is a pretty mundane affair in the singing department, and it doesn’t help when the synths you’re singing to are generic and at times cheesy, often showing a striking resemblance to pop classics of yore.
With this progression in sound, it feels like Stars are more than just paying homage to their influences. Not that paying homage to your favorite artists is a bad thing, it’s just that you have to add some sort of new spin or something original to the genre so it doesn’t come across as a complete rip off. The silver lining to be found on the record is its exceptional lyrical content, that goes above and beyond most dance records. No One Is Lost’s
love for 80’s pop and laid back production style results in a superficial experience that promises nights of rambunctious fun, but ultimately can’t deliver.