17 May 2011
listen: degeneration street
The Dears latest album sees them revert to familar territory with the lead singer’s Morrisey-like delivery.
2003 was a breakthrough year for Montreal natives The Dears. The release that year of No Cities Left was warmly received by critics and the public alike and it seemed Arcade Fire like stadium success was only just around the corner. Then things went horribly wrong. The band fell apart, and with the just married couple Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchak actively involved after five members departed, released the (not surprisingly) miserable Missiles in late 2008.
Therefore, it’s fair to say expectations were remarkably low for the release of Degeneration Street, the band’s fifth album, which sees them reunited with assorted players from their fifteen year history.
The result is a self described ‘greatest hits with new songs’ as Lightfoot & Co get back to basics in an attempt to get the proposition that is The Dears, back on track. Opener ‘Omega Dog’ kicks things off with a real confident swagger, as Lightfoot comes on all Curtis Mayfield, his falsetto perfectly harmonising with the slinky disco bassline and mood setting synthesisers.
From there, we are off, kicking into the oh-so ironic 5 Chords and we are back in far more familiar territory, with Lightburn reverting back to type, with his uncanny Morrissey-like delivery style.
Quite rightly too, given the pasting they’ve recently received from critics, the band’s sound reverts back to more familiar territory, at times alternating between Radiohead and Blur – you really can take your pick.
At times they do stray and given the dark place they’ve come from, have potentially stretched themselves with a full fourteen tracks. The album is roughly segmented into four sections, and fortunately is saved by a rollicking finish with the final two numbers ‘1854’ and the title track ensuring The Dears finish with a rollicking flourish to ensure they do finally get the decision from the judges in a very tight split decision.
They’ve come back from the dead, and despite not bringing anything particularly new to their style, when The Dears get it right, their mixture of big guitars, strings, deep percussion and Lightbody’s dramatic voice prove there is still plenty of life left in their legs for the moment.