A friend messaged me the other day, “Listening to In Our Bedroom After The War. So hammy. So good.”
Stars was a favourite of ours in the 2000s, but I hadn’t listened to or thought about the band for years until he sent me that message. So I decided to listen to the album myself. ‘In Our Bedroom’ was never regarded as one of the band’s best. In fact the biggest thing I remember about this record isn’t the music, but the pissy, delusional email that lead singer Torquil Campbell wrote to Pitchfork after their 7.4 review of the thing. That always left a bad taste in my mouth.
Anyway, whatever. So I bang on the album. I listen to it walking to the store. I take the scenic route to the store, because, you know, quarantine is hell. It’s the only reason we are allowed to leave our homes. The album starts and the bassy wob-wobs of opening track “The Beginning After The End” take me way back. I remember now, this album is the shit.
Of course, the end of the track features a hammy spoken word narrative. What great Stars intro doesn’t? Then we blast through a couple of bangers. These tracks are bigger, broader, than anything they’ve done before. More like a cheesier Broken Social Scene. Fuzzy guitars, big sing-a-long choruses.
That’s ‘In Our Bedroom’’s biggest problem. It’s like they finish a track and the band says “Right, that’s good, but what can we add to make it pitchfork good” que fuzzy BSS style solo… It is clear that the band didn’t just want an acclaimed album, but they wanted a Pitchfork acclaimed album. They wanted that sweet Pitchfork seal of approval.
The middle stretch of the album is rough. It’s all over the place. The pacing is a slog as the stretch of tracks are varying degrees of self indulgent ballads. I can just imagine Campbell in the recording booth singing “The Ghost of Geneva Heights,” proper feeling himself as he switches between baritone and falsetto. It’s just a shitty Scissor Sisters track. And “Barricade” isn’t much better. It sounds like Torquil hopped on the piano at 3am after a massive sesh.
The Amy Milan led tracks are far superior – a completely different cut of meat. Milan has the sweetest voice in indie-rock. Or maybe it’s tied with Feist, I dunno. “My Favourite Book” changes the speed and instead of these huge sing along choruses we get a great downtempo lounge track. No bells and whistles. “Bitches In Tokyo” is the shortest track on the record besides and it’s one for the indie rock hall of fame. It proves that the band don’t need to add spoken word narratives, guitar solos, any of that shit.
Stars clearly tried to make this huge epic, but Les Mis is an epic and I fell asleep during that too. This is Canadian indie rock’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. It is so dense, there are so many pointless musical detours, it sounds expensive, and the songs are long and pretentious just like the titles. In Our Bedroom is so pretentious that physical copies of the record should come with a barf bag. But that’s one of Stars’ USPs, and like Kanye, they are totally endearingly unapologetic about what they do.
So yeah, still a great album. Few shitty tracks. Whatever. I really enjoyed doing this so I’m gunna revisit more older album I love/have forgotten about to see how they hold up.
Link to buy In Our Bedroom After The War.