The Five Ghosts
Stars crafts emotionally charged music and The Five Ghosts isn’t any different. What has changed is an increased dance-oriented sensibility, which generally wavers away from what made the band great in the first place. Typically layered and secondary to the vocals and indie rock instrumentals, the dance element unabashedly reveals itself on “We Don’t Want Your Body.”
The preoccupation with the otherworldly also marked Amy Millan’s 2009 solo album Masters of the Burial, and in effect, it is a bit overdone. That’s not to say that the quality of her singing is at anyway compromised because her clairvoyant call of a voice lingers on “Wasted Daylight” and Torquil Campbell is excellent with her on “I Died So I Could Haunt You.”
Given the band’s revered prominence in the indie rock pantheon, mid-album faltering moments are inexcusable. “I hate it when it all stays the same,” Millan sings on “Changes,” but listeners will hate the nearly unlistenable throwaway track for lovelorn saps. Six years have passed since Set Yourself on Fire and the audience has matured, perhaps the music ought to better reflect that as well?
Though more sure-footed than the questionable moments on In Our Bedroom After the War, little lurks beneath the surface and the narrative lyrics seem dramatic and sentimental without any real scars. At its best moments, the latest effort from Stars yearns for the flicker flame of Set Yourself on Fire, but it is neither as gorgeous as nor is it as jarring a mixed bag as In Our Bedroom. It may be called The Five Ghosts, but the irresistible and marvelous Set Yourself on Fire continues to haunt Stars.