March 25, 2008

The Stars will shine bright tonight

Stars is hoping for a warm reception to its latest album.When Stars released its latest album In Our Bedroom After the War in September, it was not received with quite the same fanfare as their previous effort, Set Yourself on Fire.The album was by no means universally panned; some called it evocative, deeply original and challenging.So I had to ask, when speaking with bassist Evan Cranley, if he thought perhaps the band had simply raised the bar too high the last time around. He answered resoundingly: “No, God, no.”That was a record and a moment in time. But, if in 20 years, Set Yourself on Fire is the album that everyone compares the band’s career to, then I think that’s cool; because a lot of bands never have that (defining) record.”Stars’ members are busy people — Torquil Campbell is an actor, Amy Millan has a solo album out, and several other members twilight with Broken Social Scene (a 30-plus member collaborative that includes an all-star roster of indie talent, including Kevin Drew and Feist).“I think that we’re a band, obviously, and we’ll always be a band, but we’re musicians and artists first,” Cranley said.“What we do outside of what I call our home, which is Stars, it can only inspire new things for the group. It’s easy to get burned out on one project, so you have to find inspiration elsewhere and then bring it back home.” On In Our Bedroom, an eclectic song structure is prevalent, including a song sung in the form of a movie script (with stage directions), and “Personal,” a duet about two people seeking love through detachment, where each narrator is identified through their respective personal ad.“With a song like ‘Personal,’” Cranley said, “I thought it was a really poignant song about relationships and trying to find love in 2008. And the attempt to find intimacy on the Internet and trying to find intimacy in the world we live in now.”The band also parades a smorgasbord of influences like a badge of honor — from Syd Barrett to Smashing Pumpkins, Bowie to Morrissey. “I think what I have the most fun doing when we write music is making something that sounds familiar, but then putting our own twist on that sense of familiarity. I think you can take another band’s creative idea and make it your own — that’s what’s great about pop music; everyone’s kind of doing the same thing in their own special way.”Stars’ live shows are known for being tranquil affairs with subtle but avant-garde lighting that lets the music be the focal point. Cranley says tonight’s show at the Bomhard won’t be different.“I think what we’re trying to do is create a suspension that we can get people away from their lives and into this world with us ... (So they can) forget about their day, or their year, or their life, and just get lost in our stories and the way we sound.” Contact the writer at leo@leoweekly.comStarsw/ Martin RoyleWednesday, March 26Bomhard Theater501 W. Main St.$20; 8:30 p.m.