The only problem I have with this album is that it isn’t very good. What’s the point in delving into what the songs are about (as I see them anyway) if none of them are memorable?
So I expect Stars to split and Torquil Campbell to embark on a series of solo albums with titles that revolve around the fact that “Torquil” is a funny name. Here are some suggestions to get him started:
The Torqman Cometh
Sometimes Torq is Stranger Than Friction
Uncle Torky’s Happy Keyboard Hour
Welcome to Torqtown!
That’s Enough Stupid Pun Titles, Torquil Campbell
And by “Torquil Campbell” I Mean Myles
Shut Up Myles, You Don’t Control Me
Yes I Do
No! Duality Isn’t Real! It Can’t Be!
The album starts with the usual Stars-y movie quote, a catchy drum roll thing, and a breezy synth line. Why, it’s almost memorable! But that lasts for just under a minute, when the pleasant but bland melody starts. And so it is, song after song, with every song so light and fluffy that they glide by leaving nothing much behind. I mean seriously, folks, I just listened to “The Theory Of Relativity” fifteen minutes ago and I already forget how it goes – and my notes say it’s the best song on here!
Oh, sure, the songs convey some general love-related melancholy or something. Its Stars, and you know how they roll, thematically. The song titles themselves say a lot – “Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It,” “Do You Want to Die Together.” “The Loose Ends Will Make Knots,” “A Song Is a Weapon.” The lyrics are just as boringly romantic and cloying, and when they’re gone you won’t remember them, promise, so I don’t feel inclined to listen enough to type them out.
Stars were always about this sort of stuff – writing songs for college kids with bangs to get melancholy to – and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m still that college kid sometimes and likely will be forever. But that love uber alles mise en scene requires a fuckton of melodic virtuosity and creative production to be relevant. What’s here isn’t particularly bad, but the guitars are so muted and the vocals so backgroundy that it’s probably a good thing the lyrics about holding hands and how talk “don’t amount to nothing” are easily lost. Stars used to write truly great songs, and “Set Yourself On Fire” was notably filled with them, but while I liked the last album for at least trying to do new things, here they’re reaching for what they used to have and coming across as muted versions of their younger selves.
It’s ironic, really. With this album, filled with badly remembering when they were young and naive and talented, the band’s career trajectory has become a Stars song. How about it guys – next time, write one about a band that lost its spark and ability to write convincingly about being young when they got old.