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Every Stars Album Ranked Worst to Best

Stars has been around for almost 25 years and has pretty much been putting out killer music the entire time. Their music intentionally exploits nostalgia and emotion, and it’s wonderful. They are the musical equivalent of watching the 6-hour BBC “Pride and Prejudice” with Colin Firth. At first, you think “This is fine” and by the end, you’re crying, smiling, and fiercely hugging the person, cat, or body pillow you’ve experienced this with. And then you watch it again.
One thing that is genuinely great about this band is that whatever order you put their albums in, inevitably the next time you rank them, that order will change. Every album of theirs changes with age. Every album of theirs changes with where you were when you first listened to it, and where you are while listening to it now. It’s a trip. And if you’re lucky enough to see them live, that will also change your personal rankings. Because there are songs that seem just fine on the album, and then you experience them live, and they become favorites. So let’s get all sad and romantic and rank this shit.

9. Nightsongs (2001)

Nightsongs is Stars’ first album, and while there is a lot to like here, it never quite hits “classic Stars” levels. Much more electronic than most of their later efforts, the album was almost entirely recorded before Amy Milan joined the band. While she shows up for the last track on the album, her presence is missed. There are other vocalists who guest on the album who are great, but as they aren’t as recognizable as Amy, sometimes one could forget you’re listening to Stars. That doesn’t mean this album isn’t good. It’s still catchy and sad like all their albums. It’s just a bit of a “lo-fi beats to study to” feeling.

Play it again: “Write What You Know,” “International Rock Star”
Skip it: People love the “This Charming Man” cover, but we’re just not having it.

8. The North (2012)

This placement will probably be a little controversial, especially considering if you ask us next week, “The North” might be in the top 3. There are tracks on here that, as the kids say, “slap your taint.” That’s the phrase, right? “Slap your taint”? “Hold On When You Get Love” is maybe one of the best Stars “bangers” in the second half of their life as a band. The guitar line is the best lick from The Cure that The Cure never put out. The real issue with “The North” is that as an “album,” it drags. The second half has great songs, but nothing ever hits with the same punch as the first 6 songs (minus the title track, which doesn’t do much for us). And that’s not saying the last 6 aren’t good. They’re fantastic, but they still dip compared to the energy and melody of something like “Backlines”.

Play it again: “Hold On When You Get Love,” “ Backlines,” “The Theory of Relativity”
Skip it: “The North”

7. Heart (2003)

Speaking of controversial placements, “Heart” at number 7 feels harsh. But before you start sending death threats, hear us out: Stars has no bad albums. And the reality of such a beloved album being this low is that it’s really only because the band simply cannot put out a bad album. While “Night Songs” showed promise, “Heart” fulfilled that promise. All the melody and instrumentation you want from this band. And then the feels. My goodness. It’s enough to read our old LiveJournal entries. This album contains “Elevator Love Letter” which introduces the characters who would show up later in the band’s biggest single “Your Ex-Lover is Dead” as well as several other songs throughout their albums. Again, ask us next month and this album could be number 1. But take solace in knowing that at some point you might feel about their later albums the way you do about Heart.

Play it again: “Elevator Love Letter,” “Look Up,” and “Time Can Never Kill the True Heart,”
Skip it: For whatever reason we just skip by “Death to Death”

6. No One is Lost (2012)

Stars rarely miss with an album opener. But this opener is really something else. They lean into not just electronic, but actual dance music for “From the Night” and it sets the tone of the album. That’s not to say No One Is Lost is all sweaty hook-up anthems. There’s plenty of sadness, quiet jams, and all the other Stars stuff. But the album does finish with another great dance song in the final and title track, ending on a real high note. One of the things we think about when we think of this album is the single “Trap Door” whose video includes an actual argument within the band. It’s awkward and real, and a reminder of what a struggle have a band as your main source of income. You travel with these people, you play the same songs over and over, and NOBODY CLEANS THEIR SHIT. sorry.

Play it again: “Trap Door” “From The Night” and “No One is Lost”
Skip it: “You Keep Coming Up”

5. From Capelton Hill (2022)

There’s something really comforting about a band that can reliably put out good music. And Stars’ most recent album is exactly that: comforting. However, there is a somber feeling to “Capleton Hill.” That’s not to say it never makes you want to shake your ass. Plenty of asses get shooken. But the whole album has a “fuck, we’re just all getting older and this shit is hard” vibe. And like a good whiskey, cheese, or whiskey-cheese, age suits this band well. They’re not hiding it. But they also not writing corny, feel-good songs about their kids. It’s still heartache, heartbreak and as previously mentioned, shaking asses. But done in a way that doesn’t feel like a band grasping for a sound that no longer suits them, nor a band that has given up and settled with being a weaker version of themselves. Instead, this album is that hot older couple that you see on the street that just looks like they are having a waaaaaay better time than anyone else. And you KNOW they still fuckin’.

Play it again: “Patterns,” “Build a Fire”
Skip it: “Snowy Owl”

4. There Is No Love in Fluorescent Light (2017)

This album has no business being this good. This album is so good it’s making us rethink the order. This album is so good it’s kind making us angry. How does Stars keep doing it? Everything just fits. And I gotta say, there are not many album closers that nail it quite as well as “Wanderers.” How does one band keep making this many good albums? Not just songs, FULL GODDAMN ALBUMS! It’s… it’s not fair. It’s honestly not fair. There are like 40 artists we can think of off the top of our heads that put out a great album and then have consistently put out total horseshit since. But 8 albums in and Stars still can’t miss. And it still feels like they are singing, specifically for you. I know we’re all punks here, but sometimes we just want love, and this album is love.

Play it again: “Wanderers,” “Alone,” “Privilege,” and “Fluorescent Light”
Skip it: “Losing to You” is just about 2 minutes too long

3. Set Yourself On Fire (2004)

This is the album that made lots of folks fans of Stars. And it makes sense, cuz it’s got it all. The romantic back and forth, the dance tracks, the sad lyrics about breakups, and just incredible instrumentation and production. It’s borderline impossible to listen to this album and not feel… something. “Your Ex-lover is Dead” is so ubiquitous, one almost forgets how perfect the lyrics are. It’s also an ultimate first track. While “Heart” technically established the back-and-forth style between Amy and Torquil, SYOF perfected it. Other bands had done it, but this album made it feel like a wholly unique idea. And then of course there’s the songs. “Ageless Beauty” was a single, but honestly doesn’t get the props it deserves. It’s a perfect song, and we’re willing to punch someone in the face over it. So back off.

Play it again: “Ageless Beauty,” “Reunion,” “One More Night,” and “Your Ex-Lover is Dead”
Skip it: “What I’m Trying to Say” is fine, but compared to the rest of the album fine doesn’t cut it.

2. In Our Bedroom After the War (2007)

We hate to keep saying it, but on any given day, this album is number 1. It’s so good. “Take Me to the Riot” is THE Stars banger. People can complain about the production being too much, but like… too much is the whole thing with this band. The romantic back and forth between Amy and Torque is waaaay too much, and we love it. In so many ways this album IS Stars. Just about every emotion, in an album. “Personal” is just flat-out one of the roughest songs out there. And the title track encapsulates the epic nature of what the band’s over-the-top romantic worldview aspires to be. It’s almost enough to make us want to care about… stuff. Almost.

Play it again: “Take Me to the Riot,” “Midnight Coward,” “In Our Bedroom After the War”
Skip it: no skips

1. The Five Ghosts (2010)

We’re not sure we’ve met anyone whose favorite Stars song is from this album. And that’s not to say this album doesn’t have killer tracks. It’s literally all killer tracks. But with other Stars albums, we often wanna jump around and get straight to our favorite bops. But with “The Five Ghosts,” you hit play and let it go. Because as a complete package, this album is… well the complete package. Take the Stars formula, and then add a dash of real, actual sadness and that’s “The Five Ghosts.” What’s interesting is this album had a LOT of bangers. For an album that seemingly deals with some rough stuff, this album is dancey as shit. And at the end of the day, Stars is a band that is really about a vibe. And something about the vibe of this album is different than all the rest. And whatever that difference is, makes it number 1. Front to back this album feels like it HAS to be listened to in one sitting. We’ve also heard that it’s pretty good make-out music. We’ve heard. Just saying.

Play it again: The album. And then play it one more time.
Skip it: Don’t