In my post on “Fixed” (Stars other appearance on this particular list at #20), I wrote about my mad search to find a physical CD copy of the band’s fifth album, “The five ghosts”, on the day of its release. If you’ve already read that piece and forgot what I wrote, I’ll save you the trip back and let you know that I finally found a copy. “Dead hearts” was the first song I heard when I put the disc in my car’s player for the trip back home afterwards. I fell in love with it immediately, which set the tone for the rest of the album for me. It is also why it is ranked so high on this list, despite never being released as a single.
Quite a lovely track, albeit a haunting one. The gentle jingling guitars, the lonely tinkling piano, the string explosion, and Torquil Campbell’s and Amy Milan’s boy/girl, push/pull harmonies all call to mind a fantastical world of a creative child’s imagination. I’m thinking Never-Never land territory here, a dimension where logic and reality hold no truck. The idea of ‘dead hearts’ for me is an extension of the lyric in Arcade Fire’s “Wake up” that talks about children’s hearts getting torn up as they get older and bigger, which in turn seems to be a reference to Ally Sheedy’s line in “The Breakfast Club”: “When you grow up, your heart dies.”
So through all the mists and softness of the song, I see a group of children huddled around an impossibly massive bonfire while fireflies flit about in the sky around them. The curiosity of the younger ones full to bursting, breathlessly asking questions of their leader, the elder child that has been out and has experienced the bad old world. “Tell me everything that happened.” “Tell me everything you saw.” His news isn’t good. But maybe it’s a warning with a side of hope. .
Yeah. The lines “Dead hearts are everywhere” and “They were kids that I once knew” sound to me like Stars are hedging towards hope. And that sounds beautiful to me.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 2010 list, click here.