May 15, 2020 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.