Your Ex-Lover is Dead

I love rock bands that use alternative instrumentation– almost as much as I love clever and multi-faceted lyrics. This single by Stars includes both, not to mention the gorgeous video that accompanies it. (Stars: Indie-rock group formed in 2001 in Ontario, Canada; 3 representative albums to date.)

I found out about Stars via Pandora and my love for Metric. Go figure, Emily Haines (lead singer of Metric) formed one of her first bands with classmate Amy Millan. Together, Haines and Millan formed Stars, though I’ve found no evidence of Haines in the groups recent work. Either way, it should come as no surprise that great musicians run together.

Now, it should be noted that I am extremely picky about music videos. This elitism comes from a concieted place in which I do believe I could do a significantly better job than most of the hacks out there. I have vision and talent with a lens.

That having been said, I’ve only seen two Stars music videos to date and they’ve both blown me away. The music video for “Your Ex-Lover is Dead” is SO good, it’s actually supplanted my own image for the song in my mind. This is a first.

So why is this video so fantastic? Well, a great video starts with a great song. As previously mentioned, “Ex-lover” also features alternative instrumentation (violin, trombone, french horn). Like many of Stars’s songs, “Ex-lover” features a strong baseline and a brilliant build-up. “Ex-lover” has not one, but two great peaks, both featuring some of my all-time favorite lyrics.

To wit, they are:

“Live through this and you won’t look back”


“I’m not sorry I met you,
I’m not sorry it’s over,
I’m not sorry there’s nothing to save.”

Now for the video itself… The image of a frozen pond is perfect for this song– so perfect that I’m practically kicking myself for not having come up with it. The song, as you may have guessed, is about an ex-lover. Specifically, it’s about running into an ex-lover and marveling at the lack of regret. But what better image for long-dead flames than ice? Especially juxtaposed with the opening image of a room on fire.

Which brings us to the song’s opening quote, “When there’s nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire.” Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to confirm the origins of this quote. What I do know is that the speaker on the album is the father of lead vocalist, Torquil Campbell. Additionally, the quote is reminiscent of Jan Palach’s 1969 suicide in the former Czechoslovakia.

But, all the brilliant images in the world would be rather useless without someone competent holding the camera. The cinematography in this video is yet another note-worthy achievement. For one, having all the musicians lie on their backs and be filmed from above while snow falls on them… simply beautiful. The shots of ice skaters in front of a bright light? Also beautiful. What truly impresses me, though, are the shots in which the camera spins. The cuts in this video aren’t too quick (a common problem in music video today) and the cinematographer managed to make this gorgeous, spinning shots without making the viewer want to hurl. Clearly, someone learned something from the debacle that was the Blair Witch Project. The camera work, like everything else in this video, is gracefully executed.

And so, without further delay, I give you “Your Ex-Lover is Dead” by Stars:


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