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First Listen: Stars, 'No One Is Lost'

Stars' new album, <em>No One Is Lost</em>, comes out Oct. 14.
Shervin Lainez
Courtesy of the artist
Stars' new album, No One Is Lost, comes out Oct. 14.

Whether playing string-infused melancholia or insistent dance-floor fodder, Stars' members infuse their songs with the weariness and wisdom of someone who understands the realities behind our worst fears. Knowledge of death and disappointment and war lies barely concealed beneath even the most effervescent exterior of a Stars song.

Still, there's brightness — even cheer — to No One Is Lost, the Montreal band's seventh album. Stars recorded it within earshot of a since-closed discotheque, and it shows: Singers Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell are both uniquely skilled at interrogating the loneliness that can fuel even the most raucous nightlife pursuits.

As EDM producer Porter Robinson demonstrates in the lead track on his own new album, Millan's voice can be deployed in the service of instant gravitas and gloom — it's not necessary, in that case, to understand what she's singing, or even to have her sing discernible words. So it's no surprise that she can serve a similar purpose throughout No One Is Lost: Millan often springs up in Stars' most shimmering songs, but her voice still lands punches squarely to the solar plexus.

To be a Stars fan from the beginning is to have ridden out long phases and detours: springyguitar-driven pop, fatalistic chamber-pop ballads, grandiose statements about love and war, and dance-floor fillers with a sinewy throb to them. No One Is Lost prioritizes lightness and bittersweet uplift over the devastation strewn throughout Set Yourself On Fire or In Our Bedroom After The War. It's the work of a band that's plumbed life's depths, only to find something worth living for at the bottom.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)