by John Schacht
On paper, this long-running Canadian group would seem to fit into the latest disposable retro trend reviving ’80s dance-pop — synth-heavy, beats-first pop sung by pretty voices signifying nothing. But that’s what keeps music eternally fresh. The band Stars uses those same elements to craft classic pop songs and blends indie elements with soul and pop, sounding instead like a mix of New Order, Richard Hawley and Marvin Gaye. Led by singers Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan (and with songwriting help from keyboardist Chris Seligman), Stars began life in Toronto in the same fertile petri dish that birthed Broken Social Scene, Metric, Apostle of Hustle, et al. They share those bands’ communal vibe and kitchen-sink aesthetic, as well as their knack for sharp, inventive songwriting and lyrics that carry actual heft by digging into human affairs in an adult manner. Stars relocated to New York in the early aughts, only to quickly bounce north of the border again, this time landing in Montreal. The group’s sixth and latest, North, looks at its native Canada with a wistful warmness and sharp, sometimes funny cultural eye (see “Do You Want to Die Together?”). If the Mekons had grown up a decade later in Canada and not Leeds ... well, they might’ve sounded like this. With Diamond Rings and California Wives. $21-$24. Sept. 27, 8 p.m. Visulite Theatre, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. 704-358-9200. www.visulite.com.