The Dears - Biography
Montreal-area collective The Dears have spent the majority of their career simultaneously embracing and disavowing an ever-present Britpop tag. Though frontman Murray Lightburn does douse his vocals in faux anglophile enunciations, the music of The Dears is a complex genre homogeny more indicative of post-millennium indie rock than anything The Smiths or Blur ever released. The sweeping elements of Britpop are just one ingredient of The Dears grandiose sound, but there’s no mistaking that grandiosity is what The Dears are all about. The band has amassed a legion of diehard cult followers throughout the world despite a lack of mainstream notoriety.
The official line-up of The Dears exists in a continual state of flux, but the band’s lone constant has always been primary songwriter and vocalist Murray Lightburn, who formed the band in his native city of Montreal, Quebec in 1995. After a few false starts, The Dears finally released the overlooked debut full-length pop album, End of a Hollywood Bedtime Story (Grenadine) in 2000. The EP’s, Orchestral Pop Noir Romantique (2001 Shipbuilding) and Protest (2002 Maple Music) followed, and the band began to develop a cult following in Montreal on the strength of their intense live shows.
No Cities Left (2003 spinART) was a remarkable creative leap forward, incorporating elements of prog rock, epic orchestral arrangements, and a flair for cabaret into their Britpop-inspired sound.
Working with a touring band, the “writer and director” Lightburn and company spent the majority of the next few years on the road, even opening a few shows for Lightburn’s oft-compared kindred spirit, Morrissey. Gang of Losers (2006 Arts & Crafts) streamlined The Dears epic sound into more radio-friendly fare, yet despite hot media attention the album did little to expand their notoriety. At the conclusion of extensive global touring, Lightburn soldiered on to write and record The Dears’ fourth LP—Missiles (2008)—with long-time comrade, Natalia Yanchak. It is the first recording on the Dangerbird label.