Published Dec 05, 2019Releasing music created across two decades could reveal a band's growing pains, but the new "best of" double vinyl from Montreal band Stars confirms the group's long-standing talent and integrity.
LaGuardia is a sonic museum, spanning from 2001 release Nightsongs to 2017's There Is No Love in Fluorescent Light.
The record is appropriately named after the New York airport, where multi-instrumentalist Stars member Evan Cranley almost ran away from when the band first formed. It was the summer of 2000, when Amy Millan and Cranley joined the group. They were eating brunch when Cranley suddenly experienced a panic attack and was ready to leave, rather than commit to the band and potentially ruin his life. Something made him stay, and, with the perspective we have now, we know the band was far from a mistake.
Stars, along with Arcade Fire, Feist and Metric, helped put a spotlight on music in Canada. The 2004 release Set Yourself on Fire launched the band into success around North America, partially because the first track, "Your Ex-Lover is Dead" was featured on the tastemaker show, The O.C., in 2005.
That song, which also appears on LaGuardia, is a testament to something Stars has always done so well — orchestral pop with back-and-forth vocals between Torquil Campbell and Millan. Those musical elements are part of what make any album by Stars such an experience. The band's albums are emotional. They're stories. They're thematic.
Because of how thoughtful each album is, the "best of" can be jarring when you're pulled into the wintery universe of the 2012 album The North, with tracks such as, "A Song Is a Weapon" and then the heart-wrenching and contemplative song, "Dead Hearts" from the 2011 Polaris Music Prize-nominated album, The Five Ghosts.
LaGuardia is a highlight reel that's a good introduction for people unfamiliar with the group. For longtime fans, it might spark personal memories of where they were when a particular album was released. However, this best-of record can't replace the thoughtful art that each individual Stars album creates. (Arts & Crafts)