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Since 2000, Stars' music has cycled through many styles and sounds, from orchestral pop to hyperactive dance-floor numbers. But a clear vision has always remained at its core: The Montreal band writes about love that's been compromised or curdled or otherwise scuffed-up in the living of lives. An undercurrent of political outrage seeps to the fore every now and then, but the meat of Stars' music lies in the thorny interpersonal entanglements of lovers who strive — to forget, to remember, to engage and disengage.
The title of Stars' new album, There Is No Love in Fluorescent Light, references the idea — embraced in the deliriously catchy "Fluorescent Light" — that connections wilt when they're not taken outside and fed a bit of adventure. It forms a useful mission statement, especially when set against songs in which Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell take turns giving voice to unmet expectations ("Privilege"), paranoia ("Losing You"), reclusion ("Alone"), a need to flee the past ("California, I Love That Name"), and so on.
It's meaningful that all that darkness and conflict is packaged with a title that celebrates risk and resiliency. Stars' members have spent the past 17 years ruminating on the many and varied ways our hearts can get kicked around, but their songs still beg us to head back outside for more.