I DON’T use the ‘shuffle’ feature on my iPod too often, as it’s rare I’m in the mood to listen to something completely random. Sometimes, though, it throws up some nice surprises. It’s probably been about two years since I last thought of The Dears.

Remember The Dears? Their frontman Murray Lightburn was (ridiculously) described as ‘The Black Morrissey’ – a moody character with a biting turn of phrase. He wasn’t. But he was a damned good songwriter nonetheless. When ‘Lost in the Plot’ shuffled onto my playlist earlier today, I was taken aback by how good it still sounded. The album that spawned it, ‘No Cities Left’ (2003), is also a genuinely great album. Its follow-up ‘Gang of Losers’ was also very good, particularly ‘Ticket to Immortality‘, a song written for Lightburn’s (and bandmate Natalia Yanchak’s) unborn daughter; that break that begins “The world is really gonna love you” always puts a lump in my throat.

Apart from their lyrics, though, The Dears, and Lightburn, were hugely adept at shifting tempo and key mid-song without being ‘experimental’. Oi, Arcade Fire, piss off – your fellow Montréalers were doing the ‘epic build’ thing long before you perfected it.

What happened to The Dears? Well, their last album ‘Missiles‘ kind of flopped when it was released in 2008. However, they’re currently working on a new album (as-yet-untitled) which will be out in early 2011, and playing some warm-up gigs around Canada.


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