If “Set Yourself on Fire” was a command from Canada’s genius Stars to basically call it a day because everything’s so fucked up, then “In Our Bedroom After the War” is the afterglow if you didn’t take the band’s advice. The new record, again on Arts & Crafts, is not the masterpiece that was 2004’s “Fire,” but the lovelorn and ruthless crew are still a forceful unit, gloriously proven on near-perfect songs like “The Night Starts Here” (the alternating boy-girl vocals are some of the best the band’s done) and the following track, leader Torquil Campbell’s “Take Me to the Riot,” the record’s best song, a personal call-to-arms of sort that has a truly cathartic chorus (I can’t wait to hear this live). As always, this band’s a bit goofy and over the top—see songs like “Bitches in Tokyo” and “Life 2: The Unhappy Ending,” but that’s all part of the game with the heart-on-sleeve elite. While Campbell’s Memphis project is a pleasing venture and Amy Millan’s boozy solo record last year was stirring (not to mention their work with Broken Social Scene), their best work has always been with this crew. An argument can be made that Stars has never been tighter, cleaner than on this album, evidenced by the radio-ready pop joyousness that’s “My Favourite Book.” Here come more TV spots. (Tom Lynch)
Stars plays November 2 at the Vic Theatre, 3145 North Sheffield, (773)618-8439, at 7:30pm.