Posted on November 3rd, 2008 (2:50 pm) by Travis Müller

You have to hand it to Canadian rock band Stars. In addition to growing with each album they create, their sound subtly adapts to the times with such ease that if you listen to the Canadian indie outfit’s discography back to back, you’ll barely notice the shifts from album to album. Previous efforts Set Yourself of Fire and In Our Bedroom After the War have set a pretty high standard for Stars, and now fans must wait to see what the next step will be. In the meantime, we’ll have to subsist on this little teaser: During their recent tour, Stars released a collection of new material as the Sad Robots EP.

An interesting combination of past and present, Sad Robots mixes the electronic beats with a smooth production aesthetic that the Montreal-based super group is so well known for. As a throw back to early days, Stars included a live recording of Going Going Gone, a song from their debut LP. After the lackluster version from their Lollapalooza show (a direct studio mix), this version is a fresh
take on a song over five years old. When compared to earlier takes of Going Going Gone, this version shines by pacing itself so much better than any previous recording thereof.

As for new material, there are a slew of new tracks and demos to please your Stars-starved ears. Overall, the EP is a little scattered in terms of style, which gives it a sampler-type feel. Robots opens with an instrumental prologue called Maintenance Hall, 4 A.M., which is a soft piano track sprinkled with robotic sound-effects. Unfortunately, as there isn’t much to the track, you’ll probably forget about it rather quickly.

Stand-out tracks Undertow and 14 Forever help to bring back influences from their earlier efforts. Undertow sounds much like the band’s material from 2004: bittersweet, sad, but still hopeful. Co-lead singer Amy Millan takes the reigns here and her stunning vocals complement the track beautifully. On the other hand, 14 Forever brings listeners back to the poppy Nightsongs era with clever production and a killer sound.

The EP’s second song, A Thread Cut With a Carving Knife appears to be where Stars is heading with their music. After seeing Stars reinvent of some of their earlier songs during their latest tour, it’s clear that these guys are rethinking their particular style. The emotionally scarring In Our Bedroom brought Stars in a new direction-- a much darker one, akin to Björk's 1997 release Homogenic. A Thread Cut With A Carving Knife only reinforced this view.

Unlike their previous works, Robots is a very cold release, but the nonetheless enjoyable. If you're a fan of Stars, this is definitely a nice glimpse into the direction the band is heading. Then again, if you aren’t (yet) a fan, hearing this collection of songs will give you a glimpse into the band’s history while painting a vivid picture of their future.

Track List:

1. "Maintenance Hall, 4AM" – 2:18
2. "A Thread Cut With a Carving Knife" – 5:51
3. "Undertow" – 4:12
4. "Going, Going, Gone" (live version) – 3:53
5. "14 Forever" – 3:48
6. "Sad Robot" - 2:11

Stars is...
Torquil Campbell
Amy Millan
Evan Cranley
Chris Seligman
Pat McGee


Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

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