Stars | From Capelton Hill | Last Gang Records
Four out of Five Stars
It may be their first new music in five years, but clearly, Stars’ pop pedigree remains absolutely intact. Some nine albums on, the Montreal-based ensemble demonstrate an absolute affinity for fusing their exuberant delivery with effusive melodies which are not only radio-ready, but perfectly tailored for dance floor denizens as well.
Stars’ best qualities are rooted in their close-knit vocals, which, while effusive and inviting, also possess a certain contemplative quality as well. That’s immediately evident on the album’s lead-off track, “Palmistry,” which still manages to build towards a celebratory conclusion. Nevertheless, there’s no doubt as to where certain sentiments lie. “Pretenders,” “Back to the End,” “Hoping,” and “Build a Fire” radiate with effusive intent and dazzling, delirious arrangements that underscore the unabated enthusiasm.
While the album is billed as a concept album—one that revolves around a group of friends forced to face the realities of adulthood and responsibility—it’s never mired in the more forlorn realms of circumspect. The same can even be said of those songs that veer towards more thoughtful circumstance, the contemplative, harmony-rich ballads “To Feel What They Feel,” “If I Never See London Again,” “Snowy Owl,” “That Girl,” and “Capleton Hill” in particular. Beneath their thoughtful veneer, Stars’ eager, effusive energy never subsides and, in fact, remains as insistent as ever.
Ultimately, Stars create a sound that’s joyful and jubilant, but never cloying or decidedly self-indulgent. It encourages its listeners to simply let go, enjoy the ride and bask in the glow of its rich arrangements and clever command performances. At its essence, From Capelton Hill is an album that’s literally brimming over with unceasing delights, making it not only an exceptional comeback but what can justifiably be called, Stars’ album for the ages. At a time when a confluence of cares and concerns frequently seem overwhelming, they remind us that optimism need never be considered wholly out of reach.