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Record Review

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If anyone benefits from indie rock's sudden preoccupation with the Atari decade, then Lord let it not be Hot Hot Heat or Radio 4, but rather Montreal's Stars. Linked to the current flock of seagulls by influences only, Stars offer songcraft where others offer only posture and Aqua Net.

There's nothing complicated or labored about Heart. Like the title promises, it's just blood and beats and Valentines, boasting bigger hooks than anything on New Order's Substance. The thing that makes Heart work so well is the dueling vocals of Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan. Because they work in tandem, the two of them end up representing both sides of the battle of the sexes. "Life Effect" opens with a bitter Campbell quipping, "Sorry for wasting your time," and it peaks when Millan snaps back: "The bravest that I've ever been is when I ran away from you".

Heart has the melodrama and broad humor of a John Hughes movie, and it ends up tripping all the tender heartstrings you didn't want to admit you had. The synths and glistening guitar lines are straight off an Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark album, and by the time the big strings come up at the album's end, you can practically see Andie and Ducky (remember Sixteen Candles) joining hands and doing a slow waltz on the horizon.

Grandiose? You bet. And that's exactly what makes it so great.

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