Released – 13th March 2020
Rating – 3/5
The Dears have been a band since 1995, and during that time have had numerous lineup changes and consisted of 20 different members. The two core members are husband and wife Murray Lightburn (vocals and guitar) and Natalia Yanchak (keyboard and vocals) Describing themselves as “The original orchestral-indie-art-rock band,” they incorporate a plethora of genres into their work that includes seven studio albums. With influences ranging from Genesis to Radiohead to The Smiths, the Montreal veterans have never lacked innovation or ambition.
They’re expected to have continued this approach on their eighth studio album, Lovers Rock, which will be released in May this year. The Dears mean business, with Lightburn stating he has a sound in his head and now knows how to get it down better than ever. They have an extensive tour planned to support the album, but due to current global circumstances this has been pushed back to the winter, reaching the UK in November, and if the first single is anything to go by, you should already be excited.
That single, The Worst In Us, is a strong noir pop introduction to The Dears, showcasing their innovation, complexity, and blending of genres. There are nods to ELO, and bigger nods to The Raconteurs, amongst many others.
The Worst In Us is split into two distinct sections equal in length. The first of which is in a relatively standard indie style. It’s guitar-heavy, with driving drums, and a subtle string section adding some brightness. There are hints of ambient and dream pop, but it remains melodic, uptempo, and radio-friendly for the most part.
The second section sees a dramatic progression, with a decrease in tempo, change in key, and a huge switch in style. It is percussion and synth-heavy and explores with more textures. A punchy Madness-esque piano riff takes the forefront at the beginning of the section, interplaying with the drum pattern, before being replaced by synths and guitar a dissonant guitar lead. The song’s title lyrics are repeated throughout, with Yanchak’s voice sitting high about Lightburn’s, as is has for the entirety of the track. The instruments then gradually fade out, leaving it on a mysterious ending.
The distinct switch in the middle of the song may not be to everyone’s taste, but it is clear that The Dears have a vision for their music and have executed it exactly to their liking. The Worst In Us is a great introduction to the world of The Dears, and expect their new album to be full of even more creative and diverse orchestral noir pop.
Review by Will Cooper