Music picks: Stars


Stars makes their mark with seemingly odd ‘chamber-pop’ combination

By Canadian law, Montreal’s Stars must always be described as “chamber-pop.” OK, not really. Yet everywhere I looked, the term was dutifully shoehorned into reviews for their new album, “In Our Bedroom After the War.”

Sat. Nov. 3, 8 p.m. $22.50
Pantages Theatre,
710 Hennepin Ave.

What sort of trans-Atlantic consortium could possibly unite the disparate voices of Rolling Stone and NME? How could Spin, Blender, and Mojo find consensus with these two words (that, come to think of it, sound disturbingly like “chamber pot”)? Surely this was the work of Freemasons.

I planned to say something equally pithy while speaking to the band’s keyboardist, Chris Seligman. Unfortunately, our interview was scheduled during the soundcheck for their show at Boston’s Berklee Performance Centre.

Seligman kindly agreed to step away from the din, but, by the sound of it, that entailed moving literally a step away. About the best I was able to communicate over his manager’s cell phone was something to the effect of, “Why does everyone think you sound like chamber pots?”

Thankfully he pieced it together, and I got to avoid explaining that I hadn’t called him an excrement bucket.

“Once you start to infuse classical stuff with electronic music and the instruments we have available to use — guitars, drums, keyboards — it seems like a mix that happens naturally for us,” he said.

I see. Chamber-pop it is.

Truth be told, Stars make beautiful music together. It’s a funhouse reflection of string sections and electronic effects, of nebulous guitars and chakra-shaking beats; it’s a candy-colored shell around a uranium center; it’s Berlioz if he grew up listening to The Smiths.

Admittedly, that description sounds like gibberish, although listening now to Stars also makes me feel it’s entirely accurate.

It’s infamously simple to read too much into rock albums, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Is “In Our Bedroom After the War,” I asked Seligman, a concept album? A reflection of current events?

“I don’t think so,” he replied, but didn’t seem completely sure of his answer. After a moment he added, “I think it alludes to all these issues we’re living through, such as war.”

But just as “chamber-pop” can’t describe the group’s musical complexity, it’s probably unfair to expect a definitive statement about the album’s nuanced themes.

Obligatory snappy wrap-up: Sure, they find shades of gray, but Stars always shine bright.

Reach Christopher Koehler at