Stars

Heart (Arts & Crafts)

SXSW Records

Stars

Heart (Arts & Crafts) Move over Williamsburg. To the chagrin of Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Celine Dion haters everywhere, the new musical hot spot is Toronto, Canada. A spin-off of Broken Social Scene, which is less a band than a collective with as many as 15 members and several interlocking musical projects, Stars is best characterized as BSS's cute little sister. "Elevator Love Letter" picks up where BSS's "Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl" left off, elevating the mantra "I'm so hot for rich girl" to the level of pure pop magnificence, thanks to the guy/girl vocal tag team of Torquil Campbell and rich, raspy Amy Millan. It's got the irrepressible ABBA-like ebullience of that Postal Service duet, but instead of being ridiculously retro, the softly organic-sounding drum machine and dubby basslines cast the song and the entirety of Heart into a decidedly modern light. Ditto for the spunky "Romantic Comedy," a dose of sticky, sweet cyanide cheerily trumpeting the dark dichotomies of a rocky relationship. "The Woods" throws down orchestral pop a la Belle & Sebastian or the Delgados. The latter band is a great touchstone for Stars, sporting grand pop tradeoffs, a happy-dark veneer, and occasional symphonic electro-dribbles. Heart is a pop album for lovers that never once grates like a Mates of State release. There are swings and misses (the trip-hoppy "The Vanishing"), but Heart packs enough solid hits for strong rookie-of-the-year consideration. (Thursday, March 18, 1am @ Soho Lounge)

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