Some records stay with you a short time. Others last a month, maybe a summer. But every once in a while, you hear a record that sounds like it was recorded for you personally, with melodies that sound wondrous and yet familiar and lyrics that remind you of the things you have always understood but never knew how to explain. The Stars Burn Out, the newest and best record from David Singer and The Sweet Science, is one of those. Produced by Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Califone) and David Singer at Engine Studios in Chicago, The Stars Burn Out is a tour-de-force of pop songwriting, echoing Elvis Costello, Randy Newman and Brian Eno with a modern sensibility that transcends its influences. It is a funny and candid look at sexual politics, human behaviour and social Darwinism, at once the soundtrack and the antidote to life in our times.
Those familiar with the band’s previous efforts, Civil Wars and The Cost of Living (Deep Elm), already know of their chameleon-like ability to jump from style to style without losing their own distinct voice, and The Stars Burn Out is no exception. This record is a document of a band operating in top form, from the Zombies-like pulse of "Social Studies" to the new-wave bombast of "Is There Anyone Out There?", from the glam ballad "When The Spring Is Finally Here" to the New Orleans brass band stomp of "Thanks For Nothing". The production can only be called state-of-the-art, with Brian Deck providing the inventiveness and clarity for which he is renowned. But it is David’s lyrics, as always, that take center stage. This record is his crowning achievement, at once satirical and sincere, asking the questions we all ask in a way we all wish we could articulate.
THE STARS BURN OUT speaks to the part of us that wonders if anyone else is lonely, if anyone else is bored, if anyone is even listening. Consider this, from "Can I See You Tonight?": 'When they're playing the national anthem/And everyone's singing along/I think what a beautiful concept that is/But I picture a different song/Somewhere Over The Rainbow/And we can all go to falsetto/For "Why O Why Can't I?"/But no one's jealous of bluebirds/Just cause they know how to fly' Some people only put music on in the background; some people never even set the stations on the radio in their car. But there are still those of you who treasure music, who live for it, who worship at the altar of the song. THE STARS BURN OUT is for you. "David Singer just keeps getting better and better. On THE STARS BURN OUT, he boasts the lyrical eye of a poetic but funny novelist and the musical chops and range of a great Tin Pan Alley tunesmith who's taken way too many psychedelic drugs." - Jim DeRogatis, pop music critic, Chicago Sun-Times