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Critiques CD: Stars | The North

Many hold 2004’s Set Yourself on Fire as Stars at their finest – its lush instrumentation, dreamy synth-pop hooks, the lyrics’ charming, youthful idealism and the intimacy of Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell’s ethereal vocal exchanges. Those who’ve been a tad underwhelmed by recent Stars albums will be happy to know their sixth effort, The North, finds Montreal’s romantic indie-pop quintet back in fine form. “The Theory of Relativity” gets things going with an ebullient pop track that boasts woozy synths, a delicate M83 sounding melody and light, glossy, expressive vocals that carry through the record. Sure, an epic song title like “Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It” might elicit a few eye-rolls, but it’s every bit the uplifting, irony-free love anthem that boasts bombastic percussion, fluttery melodies and impressive restraint in its execution. Stars should win back many defectors who’d written them off as sugary excess.