Described across the Internet as “beautiful, eloquent indie pop,” the music of Montreal-based group Stars resonates with underground music fans in Taiwan.
Advance tickets are selling well for the band’s show at The Wall (這牆) in Taipei on Monday, according to Sky Tai (戴杏芳), a manager at White Wabbit Records (小白兔唱片). The show wraps up a tour of Australia, Japan and Singapore in support of their latest EP, Sad Robots.
Stars made their breakthrough along with a wave of popular Canadian groups including Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene. They were nominated for Canada’s Juno Awards for their albums Heart in 2004 and Set Yourself on Fire in 2005.
Three of Stars’ members are part of Broken Social Scene, which performed in Taipei in March of last year, and the two groups share a liking for ornate pop arrangements and quirky sounds from electric guitars and synthesizers. But Stars’ music is less abstract and often has an atmosphere of dark romance and drama, notably played out in male/female vocal duets between Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan, who Tai says is a major attraction for Taiwanese fans.
The band employs catchy, melodic hooks, but their brand of pop shies away from the mainstream. Many of their songs contain narratives with poetic leanings — songs like Reunion and What I’m Trying to Say from Set Yourself on Fire, have chorus refrains with a lyrical cadence that owes a debt to The Smiths.
Since it formed in 2001, the band’s sound has ranged from 1980s synth pop and electronica to guitar rock. Their repertoire of mostly original songs has also included covers such as Bruce Springsteen’s Hungry Heart and the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Modern Romance.
WHAT: Canadian indie-pop band Stars, live at The Wall
WHEN:Monday at 8pm
WHERE: The Wall (這牆), B1, 200, Roosevelt Rd Sec 4, Taipei City (台北市羅斯福路四段200號B1).
Call (02) 2930-0162 or go to www.thewall.com.tw for more information
TICKETS: NT$2,000, available at White Wabbit Records, located inside The Wall’s shopping arcade
ON THE NET: www.myspace.com/stars;
But one band member is ambivalent about the “indie-rock” label. In an interview with the Singaporean music blog Power of Pop, bassist Evan Cranley said, “We’ve always tried to rise above that title. We’re a pop band with a conscience. We make home movies for people’s lives.”
Pop’s potential for melodrama appeals to Campbell, a former stage and television actor. On the band’s Web site, he remarks on making the band’s full-length 2007 album In Our Bedroom After the War. “What is the darkest possible situation that I could try to turn into a beautiful pop song?” he said. “That was sort of my mission with this record. If you could make horror movies that were like love stories, that would be my ultimate genre.”