/

CD REVIEW

Land of Talk — “Applause, Cheer, Boo, Hiss”
Stars — “In Our Bedroom After the War”

by Shawn Despres

The hype around Montreal’s music scene may have faded, but the debut from Land of Talk, “Applause, Cheer, Boo, Hiss,” shows that the city’s well of talent is far from dry. Formed in 2005, the trio delivers 10 delectable tracks (originally issued in Canada as a seven-song EP in 2006 and now released in Japan with three extra cuts) of dark, dissonant indie rock that brings to mind the early work of defunct American post-punkers Pretty Girls Make Graves. Sung over a bed of powerful, angular soundscapes, Elizabeth Powell’s vocal melodies emit a sense of restrained urgency on tracks such as “Sea Foam” and “Young Bridge.” In an iPod age catering to single tracks, solid albums from start to end like this are a rarity.

Stars’ associations with fellow Canadian band Broken Social Scene (three of the five members moonlight in the collective) helped expose 2004′s lush, indie-pop gem, “Set Yourself On Fire,” to a broader audience. Stars’ fourth full-length, “In Our Bedroom After The War” follows a similar path as its predecessor on fantastic, synth-driven opener “The Night Starts Here,” but quickly sets itself apart thereafter.

Bordering on adult contemporary, they channel mature disco grooves on “My Favourite Book” and Bee Gees-esque harmonies on “The Ghost of Genova Heights,” while they swap their usual keys and synths for piano on “Barricade” and stunning standout “Personal,” which sees singers Amy Milan and Torquil Campbell at their best as they trade off verses about love and longing that read like personal ads. The prevailing themes in most Stars songs, the two reign supreme on “Bitches In Tokyo,” whose nonsensical title is bound to elicit a few chuckles from fans here.