House of Blues, Friday, November 9, 7 p.m. 619-299-2583. $15.
From the moment I first heard the song "Ageless Beauty" from Stars' 2005 album Set Yourself on Fire, I was smitten. I kept on being smitten even after I brought home the album and listened to its corny spoken-word introduction. If the album was sometimes a little too sentimental, I thought it was redeemed by the cleverness of the arrangements and the barbs hidden in the lyrics.
So I kept on being smitten, right up until I tracked down their 2003 album Heart and heard its spoken-word introduction in which each member of the band introduces himself or herself thusly: "I'm Amy, and this is my heart...I'm Torq, and this is my heart," and so on. I thought I had a high tolerance for nakedly romantic pop, but that went past my limit. Since I've heard it I can't listen to Set Yourself on Fire without rolling my eyes.
Stars toured for more than a year to promote Set Yourself on Fire, and it shows: On their new album In Our Bedroom After the War they sound tighter and more powerful. They actually rock from time to time. Side projects by lead singers and main songwriters Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell (notably Millan's solo album and work with Broken Social Scene and Campbell's work with the band Memphis) apparently expanded their songwriting ambitions -- as did a misguided album that enlisted friends to remix Set Yourself on Fire in its entirety. The result is a lushly arranged, often quite beautiful album. But to really get into it, you've got to enjoy the taste of schmaltz.
STARS, House of Blues, Friday, November 9, 7 p.m. 619-299-2583. $15.