Founding members of anthemic, Montreal-based indie rock collective the Dears, Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchak, had to go it alone on 2008’s fractured Missiles, a deeply personal collection of moody, angst-filled modern rock that was drenched in atmosphere, though low on hooks. Degeneration Street, the group’s fifth studio album, finds the band not only back at capacity, but bursting at the seams with engaging melodies, memorable choruses, and renewed apocalyptic fervor. Built on a foundation of traditional, early-'90s Brit-pop (Pulp, Blur, Suede) -- the usual Radiohead-meets-TV on the Radio comparison still applies as well -- Degeneration Street may feel a bit old-fashioned, but Lightburn and company are invested enough to pull it off. From the weird Baroque soul of “Omega Dog” to the Motown-meets-the Coral gallop of “Yesteryear,” the Dears display a willingness to let a few moments fall short of the nosebleed section, but that doesn’t keep the band from running a few plays from the Springsteen/Arcade Fire playbook with “5 Chords” and “Thrones,” both of which skillfully navigate the increasingly blurry line between overwrought, indie pop melodrama and breezy, radio-ready modern rock. "Desperation Street" may have been a more apt title, as there is a thin current of “last chance” grandstanding that permeates the entire affair, but the Dears, despite their numerous attempts, have never sounded so alive and accessible.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger