Whitney Reid
staff writer
October 13, 2005
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Set Yourself on Fire Set Yourself on Fire
March 8, 2005
Arts and Crafts
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Stars
Set Yourself On Fire

Layered music like this is so hard to pull off. Stars do it so well. Samplers and synths on the same track as live strings? While not unheard of, it's still quite a feat to make sound good. Pianos here, handclaps there, an electric buzz everywhere. It all comes together nicely and makes for something a little more than just indie pop. Listen to the rabid wailing about midway through "He Lied About Death". It's gorgeous, and I can't even tell what instrument is being played. Is that a saxophone? Montreal/Toronto seems to have been hoarding all the good musical talent for themselves the past few years.

I've just recently gotten into female vocalists. I can't say why I've never really dug them before, but I just never did. Amy Milan's voice is angelic and rivals even that of my one true love, Jennie Lewis. I fall in love with these voices and I might as well be falling in love with these women themselves. Even the duets, which I'm not too keen on generally, make me want to listen to more.

The only song I would've cut from the album is "Soft Revolution". It doesn't just sound like filler, it feels like filler. Every other song though has its own merit. I haven't been so enthralled by lyrics in a while. And I wouldn't have even been able to relate to them a year ago, hell, not even six months ago when this was released. Torquil Campbell sings in "One More Night":
"He starts with her back cause that's what he sees
When she's breaking his heart, she still fucks like a tease
Release to the sky, look him straight in the eye
And tell him that now, that you wish he would die
You'll never touch him again so get what you can
Leaving him empty just because he's a man
So good when it ends, they'll never be friends
One more night, that's all they can spend"

And at the end of "Your Ex-Lover is Dead" Milan and Campbell harmonize:
"I'm not sorry I met you
I'm not sorry it's over
I'm not sorry there's nothing to save"

As upbeat as most of them are, a lot of these songs really make me want to cry. I'm glad I didn't hear this when it first came out because I don't think I would have fully appreciated it.

Release date: March 8, 2005
Label: Arts and Crafts
Rating: 8.6 / 10

On the web: http://www.arts-crafts.ca/stars/
[RMR]