Seeing Stars: Band shines bright with new album, tour

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Entertainment,Robert Fulton

Canadian indie pop band Stars recently released it's excellent sixth album "The North," the group's best charting debut in its 12 years. Reviewers have lavished praise on the effort, with at least one outlet calling "The North" a "masterpiece."

"That's great news," said singer and guitarist Amy Millan, speaking from home in Montreal, enjoying the last few days before Stars hit the road for an extended tour. She's also quick to credit the band as a whole for "The North." "I'm really happy that the record is being well received. You work hard, make something you're proud of and you hope that people also think that it's genius."

Stars perform Sunday at the 9:30 Club.

Millan said that "The North" is a much more upbeat record than their last full-length release, 2010's "The Five Ghosts."

Onstage
Stars
Where: 9:30 Club, 815 V Street NW
When: 7 p.m. doors Sunday
Info: With Diamond Rings and California Wives; Sold out, but tickets might be available through resellers; 930.com

"A lot of the time you get influenced by your last record," Millan said. "You make the record and then you tour the record and you live inside this music for up to a couple of years.

"Part of what we felt like doing was dancing," Millan continued, describing the band's approach when they got off the "Five Ghosts" touring cycle. "The last record was very intense and focus[ed]. We were going through an incredibly emotional time in our group. When we came through that there was this feeling of elation. We wanted to celebrate and try to compose hope a little bit."

Stars recorded "The North" in three locations: A pair of Canadian country houses, a Montreal recording space and at an old RCA recording studio in Montreal called Victor Studio.

"That's the way we work," Millan said. "Every album we have to change up the scenery a little bit to give ourselves space and get inspired. It always helps if there's a change in the way the wind moves."

Offering hints of Arcade Fire and Death Cab for Cutie, "The North" is a lush, expansive effort that tackles love, death, fascism and remoteness, among other themes.

One major influence for Stars is the introduction of children. Millan and bandmate Evan Cranley had a daughter last year, and singer and primary songwriter Torquil Campbell and his wife had a child three years ago.

The kids will join Stars on the road.

"It's going to be great," Millan said. "It's going to be a circus. I'm looking forward to it actually. A lot of people, they have to put their kids in day care and go to work every day and they don't get to see their kids, and we get to hang out with her all day."

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