The Dears


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2006's Gang of Losers found Montreal-based indie rock darlings the Dears stripping back some of the orchestral flourishes that peppered their acclaimed 2004 release No Cities Left, a move that did little to reduce the band's penchant for effective drama. Four years later, founding members Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchak decided to go it alone on Missiles, their first for the Dangerbird label. Recorded in a short period of time with numerous session players, Missiles is as rough and disjointed as it is arranged and majestic, balancing the apocalyptic artistry of No Cities Left with the emotional directness of Gang of Losers. That said, every Dears album requires multiple spins, but Missiles may warrant the most. With the average track clocking in at around five to six minutes, it feels exploratory in more ways than one. Beginning with an extended, saxophone-led intro and ending in a 12-minute, midtempo epic, Missiles has more in common with TV on the Radio and OK Computer-era Radiohead -- "Berlin Heart" is a dead ringer [musically] for "No Surprises") -- than it does the Smiths or Echo & the Bunnymen, two groups that have shadowed the band in the past, and while the rewards are there ("Money Babies," "Lights Off," and "Crisis 1&2" are three of the most engaging cuts the pair has ever written), the hooks are few and far between, resulting in the kind of overly personal transitory album that can either lay the seeds for a full-blown masterpiece, or render the garden infertile.

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