Stars has made a career out of whispering sweet nothings of love and loss and chances missed, and that has not changed on In Our Bedroom After the War, it has only been augmented. In Our Bedroom features melodies more and more dependent on the vocal work, meaning the intonation of each syllable and every bit of wordplay will have much more of an impact upon the listeners, especially as Stars’ relationship with listeners has grown more intimate over the release of the past three albums, every listener having a favorite memory of a song to compare to “The Night Starts Here” or “The Ghost of Genova Heights.” On In Our Bedroom After the War, every word counts between performer and listener, in the musicianship of lyrics and the semantics as well, the meaning carried with them; the listeners are hanging on every word.
The rhythms of each song have been simplified as well, a calm after the war dominated by steady drum work and piano keys tipping stable to secure beats. Upon entering the chorus, a little something is added, usually swift strums of a guitar, or sometimes orchestral instruments and xylophones, but nothing too startling, only something soothing that grows as the song continues, reaching a climax, then dropping out at the end to leave the beginning after the end on a high note, giving greater vantage to the start of the next song, but nothing shocks like gunshots and screams After the War. The exception to this calm is “Window Bird” as the song fall into the chorus, a screaming cadence when compared to the construction to build from apparent in every other song. The climax at the end of “Window Bird” is much less a climax than disarray and decadence, possible shadows of a war torn future lying ahead.
“Bitches In Tokyo” follows the same pattern, war seeming imminent, battle, bloodshed, broken hearts, but “Life 2: The Unhappy Ending” reluctantly takes care of it, complexity of the discord at the end of the previous two tracks organized in the chorus with the male protagonist of the song lamenting that he cannot romantically revel in his own fall. The peace proceeds in “Today Will Be Better, I Swear!”, restful rhythms rectified, and finally claiming triumph “In Our Bedroom After The War” leaving “The Beginning After The End” to loop on a high note. This high note, harmonious and happy, continues through the remaining songs’ rhythm until “Personal,” a song driven by the insensate words on newspaper clippings, incapable to feel the destructive sense of rejection carried by the words said, and “Barricade,” a song completely opposite “Personal,” embracing the majesty of destruction, which leads to the dissension of “Window Bird.”
It is a subtle song cycle that slips soothing into the ears of listeners, easily mistaken for sweet nothings, shallow words that get by on their charm, but music is more than just words, listening for more than that can turn sweet nothings into sweet somethings. Whether or not they are sweet somethings or nothings, what be delusion and what be truth, is all dependent upon one’s past relationship with Stars.