Stars

The Five Ghosts

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Returning to work with Tom McFall, who produced the group’s 2005 album Set Yourself on Fire, Stars recorded their fifth outing in their home city of Montreal, writing together as a unit in the studio. Self-funded, as the first of Stars' releases for their own Soft Revolution Records, The Five Ghosts finds the fivesome mainly playing it safe. As suggested by the title, the album involves a loose concept about ghosts, with songs like “I Died So I Could Haunt You” and “He Dreams He’s Awake,” as it tips back and forth between melancholy yet shiny ballads and saturated, coffeehouse dance music. Beats recall Postal Service's Give Up, with added ‘80s glitter courtesy of some newly acquired synthesizers and drum programs, but unfortunately, their approach feels more retro-dated than retro-cool. It’s possible that, by writing together in the studio, the controlled environment lent itself to a more sterile sound. It’s also likely that Amy Millan used up a lot of ideas while making her solo album a year prior. While a few hooks stand out -- particularly the “fisticuffs” chorus of “Fixed” -- most of the songs are too watered down, lyrically and musically, to be truly enticing.

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