Stars

Heart

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    8
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Though very Momus (whom Stars count as a fan) circa Voyager, Heart is much more twee pop despite similar keyboards and electronics. Stars work with bittersweet grooves, sleepy singing, and analog gurgles -- which makes for a charming collection of electronic chamber pop. More New Order and Saint Etienne than Smiths, and with male and female vocals, the band comes across as an electro-pop Belle & Sebastian. Still, most of the songs lack the immediate hook of their folky counterparts. Stars songs tend to unfold more slowly, from the brilliant retro-futuristic "Death to Death" to the disco-lite Pet Shop Boys-styled "The Vanishing." Amy Millan's gorgeous voice is the group's greatest strength -- on the bouncy, propulsive "Elevator Love Letter," for example. It's not surprising that Millan has contributed to movie soundtracks -- the entire album would sit most comfortably as the decidedly outsider accompaniment to an appropriately indie "Romantic Comedy" (incidentally also the title of one of the record's most beautifully simple and sunny songs).

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