Set Yourself on Fire
Arts and Crafts
“When you have nothing left to burn,” says the sample at the opening of Stars’ newest release, “you have to set yourself on fire.” And these Toronto-based indie poppers have done just that. Until now, they have been underdogs in the ever-expanding Canuck-pop scene, existing in the shadow of the Arcade Fire, the New Pornographers, Death From Above 1979 and Broken Social Scene (with whom they share members). 2003’s Heart was strong, but lacked focus and had an uncomfortably high cheesiness factor, courtesy of singer Torquil Campbell, who likes Morrissey perhaps just a little too much. Yet one song, ‘Elevator Love Letter’, showed massive promise. Now, Set Yourself on Fire picks up where that track left off, presenting a band that has matured, and beautifully melds pop conventions with their own brand of dark optimism. They handle everything from lullabies (‘Celebration Guns’) to rollicking activist rants (‘He Lied About Death’) with equal aplomb. The dark or just plain sad lyrics are countered by the hopefulness inherent in the sheer beauty of the music. We all may be in the gutter, but Stars are definitely the ones looking at the, errm, stars.