8 p.m. Thursday, September 25. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Boulevard

Canadian synthpop darlings Stars shroud their soundtracks to nightmares in the guise of uplifting pop songs. Last year's In Our Bedroom After the War shimmers with glittery atmospheres, but conjures lonely hotel rooms or solitary bedroom restlessness, like the darkest ingredients of Disintegration-era Cure mixed with the Pet Shop Boys' catchiest choruses. The boy-girl tag-team vocals of "Take Me to the Riot" or the rhythm-section romp "Bitches in Tokyo" turn up the intensity, though, by veering from solemn desperation to frenzied reckless abandon. Nevertheless, the feeling of icy, crystalline solitude portrayed by Amy Millan's wispy vocals on "Going, Going, Gone" (from the band's recent Sad Robots EP) finds Stars in its comfort zone; it's a textured, synth-driven ballad supported by a simple drum machine loop and Torquil Campbell's emotive, R&B-esque backup vocals.

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