There’s a certain poignancy to The Other Stars’ latest – and, according to the band themselves, probably final – release. Taking cues from early 00s emo/pop-punk, ‘The Day We Met’ adheres closely to the genre’s template, offering up razor sharp hooks and memorable melodies with ease. But where it really makes its money is in the lyrics.
Relatable but not overbearing, there’s a realism to Connor Bird’s insightful tales, putting him alongside the likes of Toby Foster (High Dive) or John Darnielle (The Mountain Goats) in terms of storytelling lyricism (I had to check whether Bird was also from Bloomington, Indiana, such is the similarity).
It is smart stuff too: “I showed up at your door wearing a business suit that didn’t suit me well. You said that you could hardly tell,” Bird muses on the title track, and it’s a line that comes wrapped up in nostalgia, grasping for those rose-tinted summer days via a half-remembered vignette, but so well-observed it remains devilishly witty all the same.
The songwriting remains unbelievably high throughout, ensuring there’s so much depth to ‘The Day We Met’ it takes a few listens to piece the stories together. Yet such detail also makes for some vividly real and genuinely triumphant moments. ‘Castle Hill’ in particular is astonishingly involving, demanding investment as the story unravels. If, as a songwriter you can take the audience with you on a journey, you’re halfway there. Bird makes you want to sit alongside him as he’s screaming that he could “turn this car around”. It’s a poetically powerful moment in a story of what ifs.
It all means ‘The Day We Met’ is a bittersweet experience. Few albums will come close to replicating this level of storytelling in 2017, making it a fitting swansong for a hugely underappreciated act. The flipside of this is that hopefully Bird has many more stories to tell.
‘The Day We Met’ by The Other Stars is released on 28th April on Take This To Heart Records.
Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)