Stars Nightsongs

Le Grand Magistery is rapidly becoming an American version of the legendary El Records for the new millennium - their releases have a very similar "artistic" sound that could be confused by some as being terribly pretentious, but they're not. They just have a vision of what they want to release, musically, and their latest band to release an album is Stars. Stars' debut long player, Nightsongs, doesn't stray too far from the EP that came before it, and that's true in more ways than one - three of the songs from the EP reappear on this album (albeit in slightly different versions). Fortunately, they managed to pick out the good songs, so it isn't quite the problem that it could have been, just as long as they don't let it happen again. Stars are basically a duo, Torquil Campbell (part-time actor) and Chris Seligman (who hails from Toronto), although they do recruit some friends to help out with singing from time to time. The majority of the songs are composed of keyboard bleeps and blips, in a Pet Shop Boys meets Everything But The Girl kind of way, with the additional female vocals (both in the background and singing lead) helping to add some much-needed variety, which keeps things interesting. The music could best be described as atmospheric, rather than out and out emotional, in a similar way to one of their admitted influences, the Blue Nile. At times, the music can be a little sterile and cold, but when things turn quieter on the piano-driven "Tonight," the music can be genuinely moving and touching. Nightsongs is an album that is very easy to listen to, with a lot of charm and enough good moments (including a very cute cover of the Smiths' "This Charming Man") to make it worth picking up if you are looking for some sophisticated, elegant pop. (Le Grand Magistery)