‘He Lied About Death’ by Stars
From the album Set Yourself on Fire (2004)
There aren’t many albums that I would consider calling perfect. From the top of my head I’d probably say Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Queens of the Stone Age’s Songs for the Deaf and You Forgot it in People by Broken Social Scene make the cut as albums I’d consider to be, be that in terms of a time in my life, a certain meaning or memory that I can revisit and also for the innovation displayed on each of these records that makes them, for me, perfect and infinitely listenable all the way through. Set Yourself on Fire, however, has the distinction of being absolutely perfect and a thoroughly beautiful, theatrical, emotional, delicate and powerful album and it was very tough for me to pick just one track to focus on for this article, from an album that narrowly lost out on the 2005 Juno Award for Best Alternative Album (to Feist’s Let It Die).
‘He Lied About Death’ isn’t you typical Stars song; it is a lot more brooding than most and features a lot less of the structural balances seen on other tracks throughout the band’s discography (‘One More Night’, ‘Take Me to the Riot’, ‘Death to Death’, etc.). Led by Chris Seligman’s intricate yet loosely layered synth lines and a Torquil Campbell lead vocal ably backed up, as per, by Amy Millan, the song builds into what could only be described as an absolutely nuts instrumental which devours almost half of the song. Synth stabs give way to a saxophone played at breakneck speed only just kept in line by the rhythmic pounding of Pat McGee’s drums.
Stars in general define large parts of my growing up, between around 2004 to 2009; the aforementioned Joe Man Hater crew would hit every Stars tour that came to the UK and would spend endless nights sat around each others’ houses drinking and singing along drunkenly to ‘Barricade’. A recent Stars concert is also the place at which my very good friend Andy asked his long-term girlfriend Devan to marry him, to which, of course, she said yes. The backstory to the seemingly leftfield choice of proposal venue is that they got together after a Stars show at the Night and Day Café in Manchester in 2007 (a gig that I had to argue ferociously with the door staff at the Cafe to get us into as it was over 18 and only Devan was over 18 at the time); another love story, this time told in real life and not through the lyrics of Campbell and Millan, winds on.
Stay tuned for more Canada next week!