To anyone still mewling about how the download smote the album, meet the definitive, indisputable rebuttal: Stars’ In Our Bedroom After the War. Released digitally by the Canadian indie-pop collective’s label, Arts & Crafts,
four days after it was mastered, the LP cut rogue downloaders off at the pass—you could own or stream it clean and legal before it even hit P2P networks. (A physical version arrives in September, for you plastic fetishists.) But what’s far more important is the album itself—only a great fool would be satisfied with just a track or two, and hearing them all in order will make you nostalgic for the days when cuddling up with an entire record (even if it’s on your iPod) wasn’t such an anomaly.
In Our Bedroom is Rent as written by the Smiths, earnest and theatrical, full of characters desperate for love and some sense in the world. Many of the softer, subdued numbers evoke theater productions: You can picture the spotlight switching back and forth between the two lonely singles of “Personal” (“When you see my face/I hope that you don’t laugh”), while the subsequent “Barricade” could be a bonus track from the Les Misérables cast recording: “The pigs arrived with tear gas/And I wept at the mistakes we made!” It’s not all melodrama, though—the sashaying “My Favorite Book” beats Feist at her own fancifully romantic game, and “Take Me to the Riot” is “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” for a generation besieged by endlessly reported global conflicts. But lest there be any doubt this thing takes place beneath a proscenium, the titular closer stages a scene in which the whole band (sounds like there must be 50 of them) storms the ramparts, hands joined, chins up, ready to greet the brand-new day: “The war is over and we are beginning!” Bravo, right-click, save as.