"Take Me To The Riot" by Stars
Stars have come a long way since starting out as an electro-pop duo in the vein of Electronic, and the new album from the full-bodied Canadian outfit exudes the kind of confidence that comes with having a plan and executing it perfectly. ("We had a vision, and we conquered every step of that vision," says drummer Pat McGee.) But amid all the plotted-out beauty—and there's no denying that Stars know their way around a pop tune—In Our Bedroom After The War (the band's fourth studio full-length) has surprisingly few truly memorable moments. Sure, the piano sounds great, the strings are well-placed, and vocalists Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan have never sounded better, together or apart. But it'll take some serious revisionist history to claim anything here matches past triumphs. The heartbreaking "Personal," with its dreamy, mellow instrumentation and tale of a woman getting dissed by a guy she meets via an ad, might be a contender, but for the most part, the band's romantic pop just sits around looking pretty, a sharp hook or three away from continuing the magic found on Heart and Set Yourself On Fire.