Stars' career has been one in which life has imitated art to an almost painful degree: whereas their music has often been critically acclaimed ever since the 2001 release of their début 'Nightsongs', the lot of world domination they may crave has fallen to that of fellow Canadians Arcade Fire.
Some of this is a result of consistency, or more accurately a lack of it. At its apex, their music is little short of breathtaking - 'The Ghost of Genova Heights' (From 2007 release 'In Our Bedroom After The War') and 'A Song Is A Weapon' (From 2012's 'The North') were as close to perfection as intelligent, highbrow pop as anyone has come in recent times. Their problem has been that too often they've been content to live within themselves, preferring understatement to hitching themselves to the devil's wagon. On 'No One Is Lost', they attempt to do just that. Inspiration according to lead Star Torquil Campbell came from a gay disco positioned directly beneath the recording studio under which he slept during the recording process, a constant stream of boogie which has in turn liberated the band's music from its slightly worthy former pretext. In short: Its mind is now free, and its ass follows.
Anyone under any illusions about this metamorphosis needs just to take in the first few bars of opener 'From The Night', its little bass skitters and robo-handclaps making them hardly the first outfit to head for anonymity of the flashing lights, but few have done so with such total abandonment. That's not to say that they've lost any of the anger which has made their songs so bitterly sardonic. On 'Trap Door', they explore mortality and the myth(s) of choice, Campbell as irascible as on anything they've produced in the last decade and a half. His foil throughout is Amy Milan, the drifting softness of her voice adding a dream-sequence quality to songs like 'Turn It Up' and the perfectly executed 20th century pique of 'No Better Place'. Both are examples of how forgetting everything makes you remember sometimes what you're really good at. Neither leave the brain at the first time of asking.
As ever with Stars, 'No One Is Lost' was made to a back story, one which involves their collective realisation that life itself is as fragile as it's random. Their gift has always been in slight of hand, in making the listener feel differently than they should when surrounded by anger. This makes even the less than inspired grist of 'Are You Ok?' something that exceeds its meat-and-potatoes chassis, a trick repeated on the MOR balladry of 'Look Away'.
So all this talk of peaks and troughs, of reaching the places other people can't reach? Yeah, well, they do it here again, not once this time, but twice; first on 'The Stranger', the maudlin strings and funereal pace confronting a story of a misfit leaving everything behind, the latter on the album's title track, a quite remarkable slice of disco that manages to have the line, "Put your hands up if you ever feel afraid" and still sound like a million dollars of roller blades and leg warmers.
Look, in the words of Campbell's alma mater Morrissey, in the midst of life we are in death, et cetera. 'No One Is Lost' bottles the essence of holding on to something when everything else is slipping through your fingers, in the process filling in another piece of the jigsaw that's been Stars bumpy road to wider acclaim. It's time for them to be found by you.
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