The Dear & Departed – Something Quite Peculiar
Record Label: Science Records
Release Date: May 22, 2007
The term ‘gothic-rock’ generally pulls snickers and wry smirks from the mouths of pretentious indie wallflowers and elicits images of over-dressed, over-influenced, and supremely impressionable teens coated in black nail polish. Still, if the shoe fits…
But fret not, The Dear & Departed are not the typical faux-goth fare. Having played alongside acts such as AFI and Sick of It All, The Dear & Departed bring a sense of morbid maturity to the typically infantile bleakness of the goth-rock scene. The band serves up tastes of ‘80s New Wave and emo-theatrics tumbled with an indie sensibility. Vocalist Dan Under’s warm baritone is the low fire to Simon O’Gorman and Darren Parkinson’s icy guitars, a contrast rife with dark kinetic energy. This combination, together with the band’s measured snare beats and gang vocals, pulls the listener into a whirlwind of wintry rock and romantic vision. Keyboards, strings, and miscellaneous electronic blips and pulses vibrate just beneath the surface, keeping the songs afloat on a sea of minor chords and desperately poignant undercurrents.
Something Quite Peculiar opens with the somewhat overly-dramatic prelude “And We Begin…,” complete with falling rain and men’s choir. Luckily, it’s a short track and before long, the band rips into “I Will Love Again,” an ominous anthem to love lost. Followed by the plucky “Masquerade,” the album continues at a steady pace with dynamic tracks that will get the fists in the air (“Tonight’s the Night”), chilly, haunting tunes (“To Cut a Long Story Short”), and songs that are just flat-out enjoyable (“Closer/Closure” and “The Fireflies”).
However, at fourteen tracks, Something Quite Peculiar does become a bit familiar. The band’s sound, while unique to the discerning ear, is not quite dissimilar enough from other contemporary acts to allow such a lengthy release to maintain its efficacy. Slight nuances are introduced throughout in an attempt to bring certain songs to the forefront but at times these highlights fall flat. For instance, the last 30 seconds of “Bordering on Ordinary” should have probably been cut – the child singer is a neat idea but in this case it comes off as random and somewhat forced. Also, the exclusion of a couple tracks might have made Something Quite Peculiar a bit more concise and significantly less conventional.
The Dear & Departed are quickly gaining an international following of loyal fans due to their effective blend of emotive music, dark atmosphere, and familiar rock stylings. This band is ready to take their place in the ranks of the goth-rock army, and they’re certainly packing heat.
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