erasing clouds

For Stars, We Are All Beautiful People (Future Farmer)

reviewed by Dave heaton

"God keeps watching me/the stupid things I say," sings Carlos Forster in "Wires," the starting track on For Stars' stunning third album, We Are All Beautiful People. Insecurity, fear, depression, loneliness…these are the dominant feelings in For Stars' songs. The album is driven by the hope to overcome these feelings, to get to a place where everything's alright. "I just want to feel like it's OK," Forster wishes in the chorus of "Wires."

Musically, For Stars have a big, beautiful pop-rock sound, with electronic touches. They combine pop melody (at times reminiscent of James, Unbelievable Truth or early U2) with meditative folk (the side that often draws Red House Painters comparisons) and a Cinemascope-like expansiveness. It's a compact album, but one filled with marvelous moments, from the quiet, touching farewell-to-love ballad "Back in France" to the harmonic, simple love song "Only Star."

Forster has a truly pretty voice that makes you catch your breath at times, a trait that, combined with the band's extensive use of lush keyboards and electronics, lends a certain elegance to even the most abstract or rocking numbers, like the noisy remembrance of messed-up family life called "Beautifully…" While filled with personal feelings, the sheer scope and depth of the band's sound helps give the songs the sense of universality they need to make the album a truly special experience, which it is.

After nearly an album of expressing mostly down feelings, the album ends with a pair of songs that together give the album a more optimistic feel. "There Was a River" is a soaring, pretty ballad of remorse and change. Following it up is "If I Could," the song from which the album's title comes. This 2-minute rocker is almost like an afterword for the album, a more distanced overall comment about what's come before. Here the band seeks to alleviate the pain expressed earlier, reassuring the world that everything's not as bad as it seems, that there's a lot of beauty in the world. "We are all beautiful people, "Forster sings, "we are only fools cause we think we're fools." With the strongest melody on the album and the most rocking backbeat, For Stars take us home right, leaving us with a pure pop gem to uplift us and send us off to sleep with smiles on our faces.

Issue 6, July 2001 | next article

this month's issue
about erasing clouds

Copyright (c) 2005 erasing clouds