This Dears article was written by Jen Taylor, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse
Music out of Montreal always has a certain feel to it. A kind of unsettling, oppressed vibe; one that speaks of long winters that never end, the struggle against jobs that get you down, a sense of desperate hopelessness, and vague memories of better times. But it also often looks forward with naive positivity to the future.
It has taken four years for The Dears to release album number six, ‘Times Infinity Volume One.’ In what seems like an apology for the wait, or a peace offering for dedicated fans, ‘Volume Two’ is also set to be released early 2016. This is somewhat reminiscent of fellow Montreal band Arcade Fire who released a two-part album not that long ago; though The Dears purposefully decided on two separate release dates for their album so that ‘Volume Two’ didn’t become a mere collection of forgotten b-sides.
Thankfully, four years away from the scene hasn’t changed The Dears’ style of music in the slightest. As well as the familiar air of hopelessness and their unique orchestral-pop sound, the album as a whole has an impression of sentimentality, reflecting on the uncertainty the band faced around their future over the last four years. Like all albums by The Dears, this one takes a few listens for it to really instil itself in your psyche. It’s certainly not the calibre of their classic 2003 release ‘No Cities Left,’ but it’s hard to top an album that could quite possibly be one of the best ever written.
As always, the track titles are a mixture of heartbreaking thoughts, starting with ‘We Lost Everything,’ which kicks the album off frantically with an increasing mish-mash of layered noise. It pulls no punches, with the repetition of “I never wanted to do this alone, I never wanted to do this at all,“ driving home thoughts that make listeners wonder if it’s an introspective reference to the band’s last few years.
The idea of repeating lyrics occurs throughout the album, which is a technique The Dears been known to use to great effect in the past; many of their songs end in a swathe of seemingly never-ending replicating messages that make it obvious just what you should be thinking and feeling. The second track, and first single ‘I Used to Pray for the Heavens to Fall’ repeats the question “whose side are you on?”, portraying a claustrophobic feeling of betrayal.
As always there are some tracks that immediately stand out, for example the pleasingly lilting melody of ‘Face of Horrors’ makes the song particularly memorable from the very first listen. It is also a representation of their songs that don’t tend towards being overtly depressing; despite the general vibe of their music, they are equally as uplifting and empowering as they are melancholic.
It wouldn’t be fitting if listening to The Dears didn’t leave you with a sense of reflection, and the final track ‘Onward and Downward’ reminds us that “in the end we will die alone“, with the music featuring the Parisian influence that underpins so much of their music.
It is such a great relief to know that The Dears are still around, and it’s likely that this album will continue to grow in the hearts of listeners as we all get more wrapped up in the current offering, waiting patiently (but not too greedily) for the next.
‘Times Infinity Volume One’ is out now via Dangerbird Records.