starsbad robots ep
  • TUESDAY, DECEMBER 02, 2008

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Stars never seem to think twice about finding and flattening their listener's emotional core. I suppose that could explain why "Your Ex-Lover is Dead", the lead track from'05's Set Yourself On Fire, continues to follow me around to this very day. Creeping into randomly generated play lists (far too often!), blasting from crowded bar room speakers; Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell's tragically painted vocal interplay takes the most cosmically opportune times to slay me right then and there time and time again. Sadly, last year's follow-up, In Our Bedroom After the War, lacked the same kind of emotional punch. There's no time like the present, however, and the recently released Sad Robots EP (Arts and Crafts) offers plenty of reasons to stick with the band on in to After the War's full-length follow-up.

A six-song collection - though cyclical opener "Maintenance Hall, 4 AM" plays more like the EP's instrumental overture - Sad Robots never brings with it any kind of overwhelming, instrumental make up. Songs like "A Thread Cut With A Carving Knife" and "Going Going Gone (Live)" buoy about basic beds of synthetically generated warmth, steady muted bass lines, and simple programmed rhythms. Where listeners should find themselves succumbing to the EP lay in Stars' ability to ferment the kind of sentimental and nostalgic wave lengths that never fail to find that emotional sweet spot. Campbell and Millan's lyrics also do the trick. Singing "Living for only one (When will it stop?)/Caught in the undertow (When will it stop?)/Trying to fight the call (When will it stop?)", Millan nestles personal despair and icy loneliness with melancholy vocal melodies for a devastating effect. The result is an addictive song that's easily worthy of haunting my days for the next few years. - David Pitz

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