The Dears

End of a Hollywood Bedtime Story

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With song titles such as "Where the World Begins and Ends," "There Is No Such Thing As Love," and "Jazz Waltz No. 3 in B-Flat," it's tempting to write off the Dears' debut release as a pretentious exercise in melodramatics. Granted, the decidedly melancholy subject matter serves to ensure that the appeal of End of a Hollywood Bedtime Story will remain limited. However, for fans of slightly skewed, introspective pop, there is much to recommend here. Lead singer and songwriter Murray Lightburn plumbed the emotional depths of his soul to create a kind of song cycle to lost love, heartbreak, and pain, reminiscent in lyrical and musical content to such diverse artists as Air, Belle and Sebastian, the Flaming Lips, and the Smiths. The most inspired moment occurs with the track "Heartless Romantic," where Lightburn, all but indecipherable as he sings through what sounds to be a broken megaphone, performs the equivalent of a nervous breakdown over a simple piano/organ line and a driving drum beat. While not a disc for anyone looking for instantly memorable tracks, End of a Hollywood Bedtime Story is one of those rare works that rewards the patient listener with each subsequent play.

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