Stars: Set Yourself on Fire
Before I launch into my year-end list of top songs and albums, I thought I’d do what every man, woman and critic has been doing as well, compile a list of my top tracks, CDs and artists of the decade. I begin with the easiest selection, my favourite album of the 2000s: Stars’ immaculate 2004 collection of Rumours-style breakup songs, Set Yourself on Fire. There were other albums I considered, including Kanye West’s celebratory Graduation, Sufjan Stevens’ epic Illinois, The Strokes’ seminal Is This It, Arcade Fire’s trend-setting Funeral, Daft Punk’s ahead-of-its-time Discovery, U2’s uplifting pre-9/11 CD All That You Can’t Leave Behind, the self-titled dud-free debut of Vampire Weekend, and even Craig David’s overlooked pop masterpiece Born to Do It (yes, masterpiece), but none spoke to me as deeply as Stars’ third album, a record rich in raw emotion and five-star songwriting. Sure, I went through a massive breakup at the time this record came out, and it helped get me through it in the way classic art is supposed to help us humans, but I still come back to SYOF almost weekly even after my personal trauma has long since finished. It’s a brilliant record, with fist-pumpers (“What I’m Trying to Say”), protest songs (George W. Bush is the “he” in “He Lied About Death”), nostalgic rockers (“Reunion”), ageless beauties (“Your Ex-Lover Is Dead”) and the best, dewy-eyed album closer ever (“Calendar Girl”). It’s rare when you feel like someone gets exactly where you’re coming from, and hard to believe when five disparate musicians from Montreal put it on record. And always, when there’s nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire.
Stars: Your Ex-Lover Is Dead (Final Fantasy Remix) (from InSound)
adapted from the CD Set Yourself On Fire
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