Track Review: Stars – “Hold On When You Get Love And Let Go When You Give It”

[ATO; 2012]

This track frustrates me so much that I shall dispose of all fluffy exposition, and instead cut straight to the heart of the matter: “Hold On When You Get Love And Let Go When You Give It” is a soulless bore of a track, sounding like a throwaway from The Five Ghosts. As Ian Barker pointed out in BPM’s review of that record, “Stars’ increasing reliance on synths makes their already derivative brand of silky pop sound even less gripping.” Nowhere is this more apt than on “Hold On When You Get Love And Let Go When You Give It” (HOWYGLALGWYGI for short, which I presume is a Welsh onomatopoeia for vomiting.)

This track is dependent on soaring synths almost to the point of addiction, while the words are utterly uninteresting. What made the lyrics of Set Yourself On Fire and In Our Bedroom After The War so good was that they felt personal and specific, yet spoke to emotions and situations with which we could relate. Remember how great “Your Ex-lover is Dead” was, recounting an awkward reunion with a former paramour? Or how “Barricade,” for all its cheesiness, painted a precise picture of the tension left behind by a relationship gone wrong? There’s none of that evocative imagery in HOWYGLALGWYGI.

Instead, Torquil Campbell spouts off vague generalities that wouldn’t earn high marks in even a high school classroom. Examples: “There’s been a lot of talk of love/ But it don’t amount to nothing/ You can evoke the stars above/ But that doesn’t make it something,” and “The world won’t listen to this song/ And the radio won’t play it/ But if you like it, sing along/ Sing ’cause you don’t know how to say it.” What happened, Stars? You used to be able to conjure up real emotions in me. But this? This song just leaves me cold.

“Take the weakest thing in you,” Campbell sings, “and then beat the bastards with it.” Well, Stars, you certainly did that.