Set Yourself on Fire (Arts&Crafts International)

SXSW Records


Set Yourself on Fire (Arts&Crafts International)

"When there's nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire." So goes the opening line of Stars' third album. Whether it's a testament to the Montreal quintet's native winters or an example of the passion conveyed on this album is hard to say. File it next to the conundrum of Montreal itself, home to the Dears, Arcade Fire, and Broken Social Scene, with whom singer Amy Millan and guitarist Evan Cranley moonlight. It's official: Montreal is the new New York City, which is appropriate both directions, because Set Yourself on Fire is a winter album. The songs spring from a warm hearth, upping the ante from their well-received sophomore LP, 2003's Heart. Fire employs a wide array of instrumentation from trombone to glockenspiel, but make no mistake, both Millan and co-vox Torquil Campbell's lyrics drive this music. "Live through this, and you won't look back," they croon in tandem on explosive opener "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead," an ode to moving on. In fact, that's Fire's resounding theme: chin up and chest to the wind. "Ageless Beauty" is an archway through which a world of frustration ("What I'm Trying to Say," "He Lied About Death") and hope ("One More Night," "Sleep Tonight") follows. "The Big Fight" casts the brightest light on this floodlit disc, Millan and Campbell trading lines in a scorned-lover duet, a tactic used to brilliant effect. Closer "Calendar Girl" sums up Fire in one phrase: "I'm alive!" (Saturday, March 19, 11pm @ Blender Bar @ the Ritz)


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

Thursday Picks & Sleepers
Thursday Picks & Sleepers
SXSW Thursday handicapping by the blurb

March 20, 2015

Wednesday Showcases
Wednesday Showcases

March 20, 2015

More Music Reviews
Review: Holy Wave, <i>Five of Cups</i>
Review: Holy Wave, Five of Cups
Five of Cups (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Sept. 1, 2023

Review: The Bright Light Social Hour, <i>Emergency Leisure</i>
Review: The Bright Light Social Hour, Emergency Leisure
Emergency Leisure (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Aug. 4, 2023

More by Darcie Stevens
Phases & Stages
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
It's Blitz! (Record Review)

April 3, 2009

Spotlight: The Wooden Birds
Spotlight: The Wooden Birds
9pm, the Parish

March 20, 2009

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle