Stars (The Stars? I never know how the name should be used) are one of my favorite bands of the last five years. Their past two albums, the raw Set Yourself on Fire and the cinematic In Our Bedroom After the War, have been among some of my most favorite records. Suffice to say then that their latest studio release, titled The Five Ghosts, was much anticipated.
There’s a lot to love on Ghosts, but also a little to want for. The two tracks released ahead of the album, ‘Fixed’ and ‘We Don’t Want Your Body’ are paired together as the fourth and fifth songs, and work excellently together. Particularly the latter, whose chorus I think is a little stupid,
Your soul is searching ecstasy
So you could have some sex with me
I don’t want your body
I don’t want your body
but ultimately has some really cool lyrical moments as well,
The window blind undrawn
You flash your trash to turn me on
Your just a tramp, you’re just a trick
Our hunger starts to make us sick
Lie down and try to talk to me
Sleep now and dream of who you’ll be
But will you actually be anyone?
Back-tracking to the opening, ‘Dead Ghosts’ was a really great choice to start the album, and ‘Wasted Daylight’, while not my favorite song, is a shining example of what a musical asset Amy Millan is to the group. One of the songs that really stood out as exactly what I was wanting from this album though, was ‘I Died So I Could Haunt You‘.
It has a really great bass line, and all the emotive trappings we’ve come to expect from Stars, somehow making an incredibly sad sentiment almost fun. A stark contrast to this are the songs ‘He Dreams He’s Awake’ and ‘Changes’. The former is typical slow-builder which just builds too slow and never really takes off. The latter is pretty (again, props to Millan), but ultimately left me feeling pretty bored.
Fortunately, the end of the album really comes to the rescue. ‘Passenger’ has a some great synth, and an especially well-crafted chorus that gets bigger and better with each iteration. ‘The Last Song Ever Written’ is a decent slow song that provides a good lead in to ‘How Much More‘, which might be the best song on the entire record.
Here we finally have a track where Millan’s voice is not the only thing to show up for, but also the tune itself is noteworthy. Campbell’s backing is a good complement, and now that I think about it, is what I missed throughout a lot of the album. More Torquil Campbell-led songs would have been helped, I think. In any case, ‘How Much More’ is on par with some of the highest points on any Stars album, and really is a saving grade for Ghosts
In spite of it all, I still have to recommend this album; even on an off-day, Stars are a fantastic group and worth investing some time. The constituent tracks of The Five Ghosts don’t work in quite the beautiful concert of the past two efforts, but like I said above, there really is a lot to love.