Once again it comes down to signified, because this is a feeling album, not a thinking album. All albums that are about feel rely on evoking sympathy for the feeling portrayed since it’s not cutting it with things like memorable songs or memorable production.
So what’s this? It’s an album that feels like being an emotionally confused freshman in a dorm at a moment of particular torpor. It’s so soft that it’s like marshmallow fluff and so sad that it’s like marshmallow fluff.
And maybe that’s okay, because it’s the product of two theatre majors without real instruments. But it doesn’t explain who wouldn’t want something more substantial, if not something more mature. I have nothing against sad, soft first-years moping, but I’d prefer a musical record of something other than forty minutes they spent staring at the falling snow. And “Tonight” has more in common with “Foolish Games” than it does Camus, and sometimes I feel like a song is going to go somewhere, say something worthwhile, but every time you listen it’s something lyrically overwrought and musically thin.
Maturity has its drawbacks – no more riding on swings, going to work instead of spending afternoons reading cups of herbal tea, realizing nobody gives a shit about your identity politics, but this is just emotional potential on show here. No hair is let down, only listeners when they think they might get a real instrument for a change (heyo!).
And for FUCK’S sake what’s with the silly synth basslines? “Tru” and “Toxic Holiday” sound like eighties Leonard Cohen. And it’s called “Tru” for fucking out loud. And why is “The Very Thing” so fucking vulgar out of nowhere? Oh, but there’s a Smiths cover! But they only had the decency to save half the classic riff. When you realize a toned-down “This Charming Man” is the most excited they get all album you have a pretty good idea what to expect.
Substance. Substance! Not that every song needs to be radio ready, and these guys and dolls would catch on soon, but this is somewhere between ambience and 2000-pop, but never poppy enough to stick around and never ambient enough to be relaxing. Then the attempts at emotions are a bit embarrassing (like the “tense” and “sexy” “Write What You Know”) so you hope they go back to being ambient again. It’s a lot of drum loops in the service of barely noble feelings.
It’s not that snow isn’t pretty or relationships are easy or French doesn’t sound nice, so don’t get me wrong. There’s not of prettiness and niceness and ease here, but the service doesn’t add up to full meal. It’s a bit fake, a bit serious, a bit marshmallow fluffy. Oh, and thanks for leaving two songs off the CD version entirely, you sick fucks. I’m not even going to download, I bet they aren’t any good. You know that? I know that. You rest of ya’s can just start after this one.
This was a terribly written review, but I don’t care any more about The Stars’ first album. Or maybe I do care. Oh god oh god oh god. I’m really sorry.