Stars - From Capelton Hill
In terms of storytelling, there are very few bands that compare to Stars, which is why we still need them after all these years – Exclaim! (8/10)
From Capelton Hill, Stars’ ninth album and follow-up to 2017’s acclaimed There Is No Love In Fluorescent Light, was composed between Seligman and Cranley over the first half of 2020. After a first attempt to assemble the record remotely with mixed results, the band convened in Montreal to record with Marcus Paquin and Jace Lasek (The Besnard Lakes) at Studio MixArts, Lasek’s Breakglass Studio, and the band’s own space, Zoomer. McGee says once they finally gathered in a room together, everything clicked—first as friends, then as a working band. From Capelton Hill is ultimately about a group of people who have spent more than 20 years together, and who have now started to face the awful, necessary calculus each human eventually must do: when will all of this end?
Musically, From Capelton Hill feels like walking into Stars’ familiar teenage bedroom. Campbell says it cuts to the band’s founding principles: it is brimming with gothic, dazzling ‘80s and ‘90s Britpop arrangements, but rendered with intimacy and warmth rather than with cold, digital remove. A wealth of horn and string arrangements unfold across the record in true Stars fashion, dreamy and macabre. More than ever, From Capelton Hill feels like a direct channeling of Stars’ decades-long pursuit: “This band has always been us trying to navigate what it means to be inside a life that is going to end,” says Millan. “And we’re getting closer.”
These hard-won revelations aren’t solely the stuff of creeping dread; whether by nature or necessity, they’re also coloured on the record with a peaceful acceptance, like watching a world-ending tidal wave cresting and marveling at its magnitude. “What I love about the album,” Millan reflects, “is that we’re chasing the truth of the matter rather than chasing a hook. We’re just telling the truth.”
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