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Dears, The - Missiles Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 7
Musicianship 7.25
Lyrics 8
Production 8.5
Creativity 7.5
Lasting Value 7.5
Reviewer Tilt 8
Final Verdict: 77%
Member Ratings
Vocals 7
Musicianship 7.25
Lyrics 9
Production 8.5
Creativity 7.25
Lasting Value 7
Reviewer Tilt 9
Average: 79%

Dears, The - Missiles

Reviewed by: Susan Frances (10/21/08)
The Dears - Missiles
Record Label: Dangerbird Records/Maple Music Recordings
Release Date: October 21, 2008

The once six-piece band of Montreal’s highly regarded orchestral-pop/noir-clasped bedroom rockers, The Dears, has been wheedled down to a two-piece becoming the husband and wife team of lead singer Murray Lightburn and keyboardist Natalie Yanchak. Their latest release Missiles is a product of this trimmed down repertoire and it shows in the album’s ethereal atmospherics and distant analog sounds. No more are the flesh-toned drumbeats of George Donoso III or the smoothly veined grooves of bassist Martin Pelland and the soft twinkling embellishments from keyboardist Valerie Jodoin-Keaton. The Dears past identity is a distant memory and in its place are wispy fumes and melodic sequences that float in the air with only Murray’s vocals acting as their suspension cables. The Dears new album has a glassy texture reflective of Stellastarr* with fluid harmonies liken to Midlake and islands of noir-gems and sonic plexuses that show sensibilities relatable the Doves. Missiles has gentle esthetics reminiscent of shoegaze and soft-pop templates with a few surprising effects that add a tingling jolt into the harmonious wavelets.

The opener “Disclaimer” has a dreamy organ versing and synth-textured soundscapes caressed by flashy jazz styled horns which give way to the gently breezy and reflective brushstrokes of the guitar chords in “Dream Job.” The song has a morose shadow relatable to David Bowie as Murray’s vocals exude a somber moaning which makes its way into the wispy fumes of “Berlin Heart.” Fragments of airy violins coat the track with a thin overcast before moving into the folk-pop chambers of “Lights Off” where Murray’s vocals subtly bend and arch through the verses resounding with, “Five in the morning / You know we couldn’t sleep / Might be inspiration / But it’s been this way for weeks / And weeks … Do us all a favor / And admit that defeat / Through the back of the head … And Maybe we’ll sleep with the lights off.” The lyrics use symbolism to personify emotions, oftentimes expressing deep rooted fears and what it would take to appease those fears.

Natalie and Murray’s vocals spring into action in the upbeat tempo of “Money Babies.” She also sings some of the verses along “Crisis 1 & 2” as hoops of softly bristled ambient keyboards and lightly foaming guitar chords circle around her. Murray’s vocals take on a mesmerizing tone in “Demons” and the title track “Missiles” as the music remains grounded in dark atmospherics. The operatic stylizing of the title track breaks into a crescendo of rock guitars and clanking beats creating a theatrical splendor that feels like the music from Tim Burton’s movie Sweeney Todd. The music of The Dears have often slid into noir regions in the past and their new album keeps this aspect about them consistent. Keeping inside that dark mood are the haunting piano keys of “Meltdown in A Major” slinking beneath Murray’s vocals which feel fragile but firmly shaped while staticy electronics graze along the outro of the track. The album concludes with the grand orchestral requiem “Savior” which veritably closes the album like it began.

The Dears new album Missiles is more atmospheric than many of their previous albums. Murray formed the band in 1995, and his wife Natalie joined the group shortly thereafter. The Dears debut album End of a Hollywood Bedtime Story introduced them to audiences in 2000, followed by their EP’s Orchestral Pop Noir Romantique in 2001 and Protest in 2004. The band made leeway globally with the release of their albums No Cities Left in 2004 and Gang of Losers in 2006. It is noticeable that the music has more hypnotic and ambient-oriented motifs than before, though the esthetics remain the same. It is an album that you can immerse yourself into and actually feel like it has cleared out your head of unwanted feelings. Missiles show that The Dears continue, and make music that is globally relevant.

Recommended if you like: Midlake, Doves, Stellastarr*, Bloc Party

Displaying posts 1 - 3 of 3
05:03 PM on 10/21/08
Matthew Tsai
Born and raised
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Matthew Tsai's Avatar
sounds like a neat record
02:03 AM on 10/22/08
Registered User
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cereal4life's Avatar
Excellent review Susan. My tastebuds have been whetted, I'm going to get this! I love Doves, Midlake and Bloc Party so I'm sold.
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