Listening to any of For Stars’ songs, you get the impression that the bandmembers spent their formative years staring forlornly out of windows, writing poetry to that cute girl they sat next to in class, and daydreaming about long walks on the beach drenched in sunshine and summer love. That sort of wistfulness permeates their music, making for one of the guiltiest pop pleasures you’re likely to find. It’s a rare thing to find music that’s as delightfully mopey as this, without becoming overbearing and overwrought.
Although a little rougher in spots than their second full-length, Windows For Stars, the group’s self-titled debut is still an dreamily affecting album. The band’s secret weapon is Carlos Forster’s voice, an amazing instrument that sounds like you only thought the Beach Boys could. If you’re the type who thinks that guy from Belle And Sebastian is a little too… well… effeminate, steer clear of this. But if you like your male pop singers sounding all delicate and fragile-like (think Nick Drake with hints of Bob Wratten), then this is right up your alley.
At times, the band’s lyrics might make you pause and scratch your head. For pretty pop songs, the lyrics can often get downright surreal and metaphorical-like. But like their music, it has a way of twisting your heart in all the right ways. The opening track is full of images of sunburnt boys playing on the beach, pretending to be cowboys. Combined with For Stars’ hazy melodies, it takes on the feeling of watching some long-forgotten home movie of childhood. When Forster sings “And all they want is progress/And all their friends agree/That kids like us are lazy/Yeah, they’re a lot like me” on “Lot Like Me,” it may just the gentlest teen angst ever recorded. “Don’t It Feel Good” is a simple song about pretty girls (and the pleasure of being in their company), while “Aging” is a heartbreaking tale of growing old with someone.
It’s For Stars at their most fragile, and at their best, as they sing of a youth long gone, and of attempts to remember it for all it’s worth. Be sure to have a kleenex close at hand, though… it’s that good.