In Our Bedroom after the War
(Arts & Crafts)
First Appeared in The Music Box, September 2007, Volume 14, #9
Written by Melissa Stroh
Thu September 20, 2007, 07:00 AM CDT
In regards to Canada’s eclectic, electronic dabblers known as Stars, there’s one thing on which fans and naysayers alike can agree: the group knows how to create a spectacle. In Our Bedroom after the War, the foursome’s latest effort, is a haunting representation of the quasi post-war world in which we now are living. Everything from the packaging to the musical landscape of the album fits together perfectly, creating a masterpiece that explores the depths of hope and fear.
In Our Bedroom after the War suitably is introduced with an instrumental of electronic beats and distorted sounds. Poignantly titled The Beginning after the End, the opening track establishes an ominous mood that escalates toward its end as a weathered voice speaks about old wars. Stars continues to weave between the microbursts of feigned normality that lurk within songs such as the back-to-back combination of My Favourite Book and Midnight Coward. Both cuts focus on surviving at any cost within a single relationship, and although the group highlights the bad times, they, more often than not, also focus upon the good. The tunes bounce along with optimism and promising imagery. On My Favourite Book, vocalist Amy Millan repeatedly purrs over a simplistic piano line, "And that is why we’ll always make it."
Like any album about life, more so in the case of In Our Bedroom after the War, optimism is balanced by darker thoughts. Songs like Take Me to the Riot and Barricade magnify the sinister side of a relationship. With stories about jail cells, pills, and the love of destruction, the former tattles along atop a thrashing drum beat. The latter cut is almost the antithesis to Millan’s vocal performance in My Favourite Book. Instead of focusing on the charming parts of a lover, lead singer Torquil Campbell emphasizes the grotesque aspects as he sings, "Meet me at the barricade/the love died/but the hate can’t fade."
Although the two sides of bad and good are equally represented throughout In Our Bedroom after the War, Stars also throws in a chilling song that doesn’t qualify in either category. If such a label were sought, it simply would have to be dubbed "human nature." The tune in question is Personal, a lingering look into the e-mail correspondence between two people. On top of its voyeuristic lyrics and penetrating, piano-driven backbone, there is an emotionally heavy ending. While its storyline and music are simple, the track stands as one of the most gratifying moments on the album.
In the end, Stars delivers a hauntingly romantic depiction of love and war that is told from both sides of the fence. The lyrics and musical landscapes work beautifully to achieve a level of intimacy with listeners, drawing them in until they are knee-deep in horror and passion. The result is that In Our Bedroom after the War becomes a whirlwind of emotion, the effects of which lingers for days.
Of Further Interest...
In Our Bedroom after the War is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box