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’Fire’ In The Night

StarsCanadian rock act Stars spent the early part of 2004 in the small Quebec town of North Hatley, north of Montreal. During that time, the quintet led by singers Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan wrote, worked, played, ate, tobogganed and occasionally argued with each other. But the end result is the exquisite "Set Yourself on Fire," a record Campbell says was more satisfying to make than the band's previous release, "Heart." The set arrives in the United States via Arts & Crafts.

"We decided what we were going to do, how we were going to do it and we did it," he says. "With 'Heart' everyday was just an attempt to keep it going from disappearing altogether. It wasn't like you had any sense you were making a record people would listen to. It was just clinging desperately to the hope that something would happen. With this record we had a job and it was much easier."

"We had a very grandiose idea of how we wanted this record to sound as well," says multi-instrumentalist Evan Cranley, who also splits time in Broken Social Scene. "We were confident from the get-go."

Mixed by Tony Hoffer (Beck, Air, Grandaddy), "Set Yourself on Fire" is a witty, gripping, thoughtful and consistently strong piece of work. Whether it's the tight, catchy pop of the single "Ageless Beauty" or the lush, orchestral touch of "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead," the band seems to have evolved much like its Canadian contemporaries.

"We had been on the road with Broken Social Scene and the Dears a lot and we learned a lot about how dynamics can really affect an audience and give you a lot of dramatic possibilities in your music," Campbell says. "We wanted to extend our song structures a bit to get away from the three-minute, two-section song structure that 'Heart' has."