Label: Dangerbird Records)
Release date: Friday, August 21st 2020
The Dears’ 2003 breakthrough album No Cities Left was a crepuscular, romantic soundtrack to uncertain times. 9/11. War. The looming economic crisis. Nearly two decades later, as Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchak began work on Lovers Rock, the world’s mood felt eerily similar
There’s a direct line between the sort of doominess of No Cities Left and this album,” says Lightburn. “You could go straight from Lovers Rock to No Cities Left and it’s like they’re interlocked. But it’s a different kind of doom. Around 2001, it felt like, ‘We have no control. We don’t know what’s going to happen next.’ Now it’s a doom that’s within our grasp. It’s in the air. It’s between us. But we do nothing about it.”
If The Dears have always made apocalyptic love songs for an existential crisis, there are also other constants, starting, of course, with the band’s two core members for two decades: Lightburn and Yanchak. There are also certain sonic and aesthetic parameters, within which the music can be both unsettlingly experimental and impossibly lush: part Bacharach, part Krautrock. From the anthemic anger and driving resignation of “Heart of An Animal” to the swoony, swerving, epic “The Worst In Us,” Lovers Rock is the sound of The Dears topping themselves yet again, an accomplishment borne of ambition, hard work, and a strong sense of identity.
On Lovers Rock, Lightburn (vocals, guitar, “other”) and Yanchak (vocals, piano) are joined by longtime drummer Jeff “Looch” Luciani, who’s been in the fold since 2011’s Degeneration Street, and two holdovers from Lightburn’s solo record, Steve Raegele (guitar) and Rémi-Jean LeBlanc (bass). There’s also a string section, a cameo from fellow Montrealer Sam Roberts (who was also on No Cities Left), and saxophone from both Canadian Alex Francoeur and the E Street Band’s Jake Clemons (on the rattling “Stille Lost”).
Website The Dears