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Stars
HEART
(ARTS & CRAFTS)
Stars graphics

Thereís a precious quality to Heart, the second full-length from the Canadian quartet Stars, that might make some people want to scream ó a delicacy and refinement to the performances, particularly Torquil Campbellís breathy vocals, that can come off as overwrought. Thatís too bad, because Heart is also bursting with catchy, lovingly crafted synth-pop on a par with the best of Saint Etienne or the Postal Serviceís recent Give Up.

Although the edgy guitar and the melodic bass of "Death to Death" recall vintage New Order, the integration of French horn and trombone balances the keyboards and drum loops, curtailing any retro tendencies. The 11 songs distill big feelings into engaging if not always cheery vignettes. "Elevator Love Song" finds Campbell and co-vocalist/guitarist Amy Millan examining the life of a poor little rich girl from different points of view; in "Romantic Comedy," the two voices assume the roles of an estranged couple. Like much of Heart, the latter song has bittersweet undertones. In the end, though, this is a life-affirming pop album, and thatís something worth shouting about.

BY KURT B. REIGHLEY


Issue Date: September 19 - 25, 2003
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