Over the past few years, Canada has made an indelible impression on the rock music scene — growing talents like The New Pornographers, Broken Social Scene and The Arcade Fire all come bearing gifts from the great expanse up north. And while each contributes its own style to further define what popular music is today, they all sing beautifully crafted songs, layering vocals over complex instrumental strains that feature almost every instrument known to mankind. Hailing from Montreal, Stars does just that and even more.

When a band introduces an album with each member stating “I am [so-and-so], and this is my heart,” as Stars did on their 2004 album “Heart,” you know you’re getting yourself into some emotional rhapsody. While never treading into the wretchedly maudlin, the band masters the love song craft with aching harmonies of boy-girl vocal interplay. Their music is truly cathartic, only enhanced by heartbreakingly perceptive lyrics: “I’m not sorry I met you/ I’m not sorry it’s over/ I’m not sorry there’s nothing to say,” from the opener “Your Ex-Lover is Dead” on their 2005 standout “Set Yourself On Fire.” Their music is far from just nice tunes to sing along to; instead, they deliver a completely moving experience, inviting the listener to lose himself in lush melodies supported by swelling strings, charged percussion and piercing horns.

Stars has already released three full-length albums for the Canadian label, Arts & Crafts, and members of the band help out fellow maple leafers Broken Social Scene, with vocalists Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan pulling double duty. In a world of an embarrassing number of empty and meaningless love songs, these Stars can’t help but shine.

–Rebecca Arzoian ’09