I laugh hysterically each day on my way in to work, but only because of this sign outside the entrance to the parking lot (as usual, you can click on the picture to blow it up):
You would think that cartoon characters would be more careful. I adore everything about the sign -- if I were sixteen I would steal it for my bedroom -- from the colors (which have been carefully chosen to match The Official Color Scheme of the place I work at) to the constipated stoop of the gravely distressed figure. But I especially love the three stars, each a different size; they make the tableau so expressive! You can really feel the guy's pain.
The new Stars album (which was yesterday released digitally, several months before the physical release) is called In Our Bedroom After The War. As that title and a look at the tracklist -- say, "Take Me To The Riot" -- would suggest, the album boosts a number of loosely-related songs that center on love and war. (It's not quite a full-on concept album, although doing one would be a logical step for a band that seems determined, as I've previously lamented, to move more and more into blander indie-rock territory.) Love! War! Love is like war! War keeps us from love! These novel musings of course put the abum into instant competition with Spandau Ballet's Through The Barricades, so I hope you're ready to see Torquil and Gary Kemp bitch-fight each other using their scarves as weapons.
No, actually, In Our Bedroom does feature some gems when the band isn't intent on rocking out ("Window Bird" and "Bitches In Tokyo" both start fine, but then end with tragic guitar freak-outs), or vocally pulling...a Timberlake ("The Ghost Of Genova Heights")? Perhaps no surprise, then, that I'm most immediately smitten with the slower songs on the record: the epic title track is gorgeously melodramatic, while "Personal" (a shimmering duet between Amy and Torquil, playing people who try to meet through a personal ad) may be one of the most heartbreaking things they've done. "Barricade" is a simple piano ballad (it would fit easily on the Memphis albums); if In Our Bedroom became a musical, "Barricade" would be the plaintive song its lead character sings after his beloved gets taken away by the Nazis ("Meet me at the barricade/The love died but the hate can fade"). I hope those crazy war-torn, star-crossed lovers work it out! Or at least avoid getting bonked on the head by the barricade! ("Oh, how could anyone not love your cold, black heart?" -- Torquil.)