If you Google “Capelton Hill,” you won’t find much. The search engine will correct and redirect you: did you mean Mapleton Hill? Capelton Hill is a place that somehow still exists outside the grasp of algorithms and internet surveillance, in the rolling green foothills around North Hatley, Quebec. Without people who know the place, it basically wouldn’t exist. But those who know it won’t know it forever; their times will end, and their knowledge of and relationship to Capelton Hill will end as well.
This includes the members of Canadian band Stars, whose connections to North Hatley trace back to when vocalist Torquil Campbell’s grandfather built homes in the area in the late 1800s. For bandmates Campbell, Amy Millan, Chris Seligman, Evan Cranley, and Patty McGee, Capelton Hill is a place where things don’t change. The same scrappy chairs sit on the porch year after year, the same ancient stove haunts the kitchen, and old wood boards grow pale under the sun.
The new record from Stars is about this place, these relationships, the inevitable decay of them all, and the joy and life that happens in between. It is called From Capelton Hill, a collection of 12 tracks that all, at their root, tie back to North Hatley.
“I guess what From Capelton Hill means to me is from memory, from the past, from a place that seems permanent but isn’t, and I think that that sense of impermanence is a big part of what’s in the record: realizing that things don’t last forever, and that even the things that I thought would be there forever aren’t going to be,” says Campbell. “Capelton Hill is a place where things in my mind, in my life, they’ve never changed. And yet it will go.” These hard-won revelations aren’t solely the stuff of creeping dread; whether by nature or necessity, they’re also coloured on the record with a peaceful acceptance, like watching a world-ending tidal wave cresting and marveling at its magnitude. More than ever, the music on From Capelton Hill feels like a direct channeling of Stars’ decades-long pursuit: “This band has always been us trying to navigate what it means to be inside a life that is going to end,” says Millan. “And we’re getting closer.”