The Dears

By CH Smith

This would be my pick for required Canadian listening for 2003. I know, not very interesting, but to be quite honest, I haven’t found much enjoyment in Canadian music for a while. Even though 2003 was pretty good north of the border, there is plenty of tripe to wade through before finding some of that sweet, sweet maple syrup we like to spread over our headphones and lick, I mean listen to.

Until 2003, Montreal’s The Dears were unknown here in the West. But with the release of No Cities Left and some rigorous touring, the band seems to be making a real breakthrough across Canada.

Formed in the mid-’90s, The Dears seem to be on a constant search to reinvent themselves. The only consistent thing about them is the way members come and go as regularly as David Beckham’s haircut–but this doesn’t seem to stunt their growth at all.

No Cities Left took a long time to make. Well, it only took four months to make, but the band was doing anywhere from 200-400 takes per song, so "long."

Frontman Murray Lightburn wrote, produced and "directed" the album, and apparently he’s a bit of a perfectionist. The band’s serious work ethic and Lightburn’s refusal to accept anything but the best really paid off.

The orchestral flavor of No Cities Left is obviously influenced by the Brit Pop insurgence of the ’90s by bands like Blur, Pulp and Suede.

If you’ve never listened to Blur or The Smiths then The Dears may be a new experience for you, most likely a positive one. If you’re a longtime fan of British bands like Blur or The Smiths then you may feel like No Cities Left is eight years late and an ocean away from where it all began. If it is so difficult for you to get over the feeling The Dears are merely impersonating your favourite British bands, you should at least be willing to realize as far as impersonations go, The Dears are as good as Will Ferrell doing George W. on SNL.

No Cities Left leaves no doubts about the seriousness of The Dears’ angst-filled music but, with repeated in-depth listens of the album, one realizes deep down they like throwing flowers at each other as much as any mid-’90s Brit-Pop hipster and that’s beautiful.

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