The Dears – Lovers Rock (Album Review)

The Dears – Lovers Rock (Album Review)

Formed in 1995, Montreal, Quebec, Canada’s The Dears have remained steadily prolific through the years.  Led by by the husband/wife duo Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchak, The Dears have eight albums under its name – from 2000’s End of a Hollywood Bedtime Story to their latest effort, Lovers Rock due out on Friday May 15, 2020 via Dangerbird Records.

A follow-up to 2017’s Times Infinity Volume II, continuing their journey with Lovers Rock, Lightburn and Yanchak are joined by Jeff “Looch” Luciani on drums, Steve Raegele on guitar, as well as Rémi-Jean LeBlanc on bass. Complete with ten new songs, it begins with the Post-Punk/Gothic/Shoegaze sound of “Heart of an Animal.” This is followed by the slow, strings-laden Sophistipop song “I Know What You’re Thinking and It’s Awful” which would fit well onto a playlist that includes Lighthouse Family’s “Lost in Space” and Lenny Kravitz’s “It Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over.”

“Instant Nightmare!” then takes the listener to a trek back to late-’90s Alternative Rock, exuding echoes of The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” and The Rentals’ “Move On.” Then there is the subtle Blue Wave/Limestone Rock gallop of “Is This What You Really Want?,” whose guitar plucks and velvety vocals will remind the initiated of Keane’s “Perfect Symmetry,” Travis’s “Why Does It Always Rain on Me?,” and Coldplay’s “Speed of Sound.”

An album highlight, “The Worst in Us” then shifts the gear a notch higher–upbeat, inspired, and catchy. The ensuing “Stille Lost” is another change of style and pace–hypnotic, undulating, slightly Gothic, with faint vibes of Tones on Tail (“O.K. This Is the Pops”). “No Place on Earth” further turns the mood to a more relaxed predisposition, but with a gradual buildup. On the other hand, “Play Dead” is a sure ear-catcher; with its syncopated beat, rustic plucked guitar line, piano flourishes, and synth strings, it stands out as an instant Sophistipop classic.

The penultimate track, “Too Many Wrongs” has that ’60s Psychedelic Soul/Pop vibe; another smooth, soft ballad. Finally, The Dears wrap it all with “We’ll Go into Hiding”–a perfect closer… textured, engaging, and structurally progressive.

Of the slew of Canadian bands associated with Indie Rock music that peaked in the 2000s, The Dears is among the enduring and productive, alongside the likes of Arcade Fire (“Ready to Start”), Broken Social Scene (“Can’t Find My Heart”), and The New Pornographers (“Leather on the Seat”). The stylistically diverse Lovers Rock is the latest proof of this. That is why Cryptic Rock gives their new album 4 out of 5 stars.

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aLfie vera mella
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Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.

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