Goldie Lookin Chain, Scala, London<br/> Stars, Barfly, Cardiff

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The Independent Culture

I can almost understand why some people might not like Goldie Lookin Chain. I can almost understand why they might say that the joke of a Welsh Beastie Boys (or, as journalistic convention obliges me to put it, Beastie Boyos) is over, if it was ever funny to begin with.

I can almost understand how some people, when the eight members of the GLC crew - the wingnut-eared Eggsy, the druid-bearded Mystikal, the dopey-eyed Billy Webb, the lanky Maggot (the Peter Crouch of hip hop), the two who could actually be pin-up handsome if they weren't slaves to the GLC image (the cheeky-smiled Adam Hussain and the mulleted Dwain P Xain) and the two nobody really notices (Two Hats and Mike Balls) - rush the Scala stage, swapping lines in an Ajax-style "total football" rotation system, don't instantly feel lifted.

I can almost understand how some people, when they find themselves in the middle of a GLC-crazed crowd dressed in tribute to the band's style - not, to be precise, a modern-day chav look but rather the style of wannabe breakdancers in smalltown shopping precincts circa 1983 - don't get swept up in it all and start leaping up and down, stabbing the air with their index fingers.

I can almost understand why some people can hear the new single, "Your Missus Is a Nutter", with its inspired sample of Serge Gainsbourg's "Cannabis", and not feel a shot of euphoria and howls of recognition. I can almost understand how they can listen to the couplet "She looks like Caprice, but it's a shock/To see her wrestling two police, with one in a headlock" and fail to crack a smile.

I can almost understand why some people don't get a kick from dancing to the old Grange Hill theme sample on "Charm School", or chanting along to the chorus "If you leave me now, can I fuck your sister... and your best friend?" I can even almost understand why some people, by the time the GLC rip into their riotous finale, "Your Mother's Got a Penis", are still not leaping, laughing and loving it. But you know what? I wouldn't wanna go drinking with them.

Cardiff city centre on a Sunday night is a bleak place to be. The local Travel Gods have decreed that if you wish to tarry later than 9.40pm (the last train outta Dodge), forget it: you're at the mercy of the £30 minicab merchants. Consequently, St Mary's Street is a ghost town, save for forlorn infestations of rugger buggers and shopgirls in retro theme bars called Flares and Reflex.

In a dark cavern in the shadow of the castle walls, one small gathering is doubling the population. We are all beneath the gutter, but some of us are looking at Stars.

Emerging from the same fertile Canadian soil which brought forth The Arcade Fire, Montreal quintet Stars are a similar rag-tag bunch of misfits, who somehow coax a glorious dreampop sound from an Aristocats-style selection of random instruments. Their third album, Set Yourself On Fire, is one of 2005's biggest growers, with twin frontpersons Amy Millan (who moonlights in Broken Social Scene) and Torquil Campbell (the first, and perhaps last Torquil in rock) sharing duets, like break-up dialogue "The Big Fight", which exhibit what an armchair shrink would call "emotional intelligence". She: "The clothes in the wardrobe..." He: "Just send them to me". She: "There are bills here for you..." He: "That's because nothing is free."

Stars' songs ooze poeticism, never going for the banal option. Take the album's title track, set in "A cancer ward where the patients sit waiting patiently to die/ In an airplane high above the place you finally left behind..." They also possess melodic power.

Next time these shooting Stars come around, they won't be in Cardiff on a Sunday night. Keep your telescopes clean.