Album Review: Stars, 'No One Is Lost'

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stars no one is lost
Stars, 'No One Is Lost' (© 2014 ATO Records.)

In the middle part of the last decade, a wave of Canadian rock bands hit the Twin Cities. If you frequented the 400 Bar between 2004 and 2005, then you probably caught at least one of the many bands riding the wave of indie rock that was momentarily ahead of the curve. In those brief moments, it felt like Stars and Broken Social Scene might become household names. It's also worth mentioning the bands orbiting the Arts and Crafts collective, like Apostle Hustle and The Stills. All of them were name-dropped by critics as bands to watch.

The influence of Canadian indie pop passed as quickly as it arrived, and waning record sales made it harder for middleweight acts to get noticed by the music industry. Although their Canadian contemporaries like Feist and Arcade Fire broke through to U.S. fans, very few of the others converted their talents for writing and performing into mass appeal; however, Stars prove that measuring success on album sales and licensing deals is a poor indication of talent.

On their eighth studio album, No One Is Lost, Stars bolster their brand of synth-based duets. Following the recipe they developed on songs like "Elevator Love Letter" and later on "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead", the new tracks are a mix of danceable pop songs and dark ballads. Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell are an ageless pair of voices on an endless search for the perfect night out and a cure for heartbreak.

Millan and Campbell sound unusually self-aware on the album's title track as they chant, "put your hands up if you know you're gonna lose." Stars know they aren't going to change the world by mining their talent for writing a good song, but they can still please their fans. Songs like "Are You Ok?" and "From The Night" capture the essence of their sound and prove they're the same band you know and love. They aren't chasing the newest trends or trying to reinvent themselves. It's an endearing quality that so many bands lack.

No One Is Lost is out now on ATO Records.

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