MUST LISTENS: Stars – “Your Ex-Lover is Dead”

(I’ve made some updates to the blog. Up top, you’ll notice two new sections, “5 Star Albums” and “Must Listens,” with the former being a simple list of some of the best albums I have in my library and the latter a simple way to get to all of the “Must Listens” songs and their respective posts. The “About” section is also updated, and there’s a new section to the side that’s simply to show what I’ve been listening to most in the past week.)

(Now on to the music)

Stars’ “Your Ex-Lover is Dead” is hardly a new song, coming from their album Set Yourself on Fire which itself is from 2005. However, they’re going to be dropping another album fairly soon (listen to their new song here) and it seems appropriate to draw some attention to what is, in my opinion, easily their greatest song, and a song that I would rank in my top 25 of all time.

And that’s a list dominated by the Beatles, so I’m going to say it now, I love this song. The other two “Must Listens” I’ve put up have been excellent, for sure, but this song occupies a territory far above them, a territory of perfection. When I heard this song for the first time, I was blown away and immediately grabbed the album it was off.

The song details a moment of two ex-lovers meeting, and it kicks off with a beautiful horn line. Given that I love the Beatles, it should be no surprise that I adore proper orchestration in songs, and as a production choice, the horns were a great way to start. And then a kick drum hits and a cello and (I think) harmonium come out with a second, entirely different melody.

And then Torquil Campbell’s voice begins singing the wonderfully penned lyrics, detailing the events of that night. The lyrics are one of the strongest of strong points for the song, and Stars pulls off something hard to do well: having a male and female lead sing opposite of each other.

And what I like most is the clear differences between the characters that they  play. The guy’s kind of a cad, singing, “And all of that time you thought I was sad/I was trying to remember your name,” and the girl’s clearly moved on. “You tried to reach deep but couldn’t get in/And now you’re outside me, you see all the beauty/Repent all your sin.”

And then they double for the rest of the song, the horns return, and the two characters finally say something to each other about the whole ordeal. It’s wonderfully sad.

Honestly, I feel like I’ve said too much at this point. I should just let the song speak for itself.

Here’s the Eternal Sunshine inspired music video:


Stars | Your Ex-Lover is Dead

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