Lovelorn Canadian indie rockers return with album number six.
Montreal’s The Dears had their breakthrough back in 2004 with gloriously overblown ‘No Cities Left’. It was a time when emotionally overwrought Canadian bands briefly threatened to take over the world. Arcade Fire ended up doing not badly. At the time, Dears frontman Murray Lightburn was compared to the likes of Damon Alburn and Morrissey. If Morrissey had made his 2004 comeback with a song like ‘Lost in the Plot’, he would have been headlining Wembley Stadium. However, The Dears sort of faded away after the more restrained ‘Gang of Losers’ album, to UK fans at least.
New album ‘Times Infinity Volume One’ finds the band in a sort of tug of war between being the orchestral, proggy dramatists of their earlier efforts and a more streamlined, straight ahead rock group. The lyrics still centre around the ‘L’ word and the intricacies of relationships. However, the compromise in sound means that the record often feels a bit middle of the road when it should be tearing up the motorway. Despite portentous titles like ‘We Lost Everything’ and ‘I Used To Pray For The Heavens To Fall’, the musical drama just isn’t there.
The record picks up with the the track ‘We Can’t Get Born Again’, Natalia Yanchak’s sweet vocal turn working well alongside Lightburn’s croon, the music steadily building behind them. The soaring ‘Here’s To The Death of All The Romance’ injects some much needed muscular melodrama. The title seems to be a callback to ‘No Cities Left’ highlight ’22: The Death of All Romance’. However, the album then returns to it’s slightly pedestrian pace. After listening to this, there’s a nagging feeling that the band haven’t really moved on at all from their debut. Even the lyrical themes explored seem to have all been done before on previous releases, and in a more interesting way.
‘Volume Two’ of this project is slated to be released early next year. It will be interesting to see what material has been held back for it. Murray Lightburn is always an interesting, soulful vocalist and there are flashes of past glories to be found on this album. Unfortunately, they are few and far between.
‘Times Infinity Volume One’ is out now via Dangerbird Records