Thursday, September 27, 2007

Stars: In Our Bedroom After the War

Like many of you, I first heard bits and pieces of In Our Bedroom After the War as mp3 clips collected from scattered blogs around the web. Also, like many of you, I formed an opinion about the album based on the few songs I had heard. I determined that although the album seemed to have a few highlights, it wasn't going to reach me on the same level as Set Yourself on Fire. I was mostly right... although also kind of wrong.

The album opens with an unnecessary instrumental before launching into album opener, "The Night Starts Here." And all of a sudden, I am reminded why I fell in love with Stars the last time around. Torquil Campbell's vocal style is still kind of heavy-handed and melodramatic, and Amy Millan still sings the role of smoky seductress, and all of it is pleasurably familiar.

If there's any one thing that bugs me about the album it's that Campbell's theatrical vocal style seems even more bombastic this time around. The band is usually skilled enough to make it work; "Take Me To the Riot" takes off and lands with grace and charm thanks to an arrangement that soars as high as Campbell's vocal ambitions. Unfortunately I can't say the same for "Barricade." There are many places that would suit the song more than this album; such as, a sad moment in a Disney cartoon, on a Broadway stage, or during a mid-show intermission at a 1985 Depeche Mode show (I can't help thinking of "Somebody" when I hear it, ever since someone mentioned the resemblance in style). The album-closing title track suffers from a similar heaping of melodrama.

Now that I've actually heard all of In Our Bedroom After the War, it turns that the bits and pieces I had heard before actually fit together quite nicely. There are still songs that I'm not fond of ("Ghost of Genova Heights" sounds like r&b caricature to me), but overall those misses are outweighed by the album's highlights, including "Midnight Coward," "Window Bird," and the previously mentioned "Take Me to the Riot."

Myspace with album tracks: Stars
Official Site: Stars
Wikipedia: Stars

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