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The Dears - Gang of Losers

The Dears, Gang Of Losers

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

THE Dears remain one of Canada’s greatest musical exports – as well as their unsung heroes.

Mixing grinding guitar riffs with ethereal vocals and tackling themes of ostracization, cigarettes and alcohol, Murray Lightburn and co ply their trade on an epic scale.

Occasionally reminiscent of The Doves at their best, Gang Of Losers is the third album from the band and, quite possibly, their best.

It contains many classic Dears’ hallmarks in terms of its complex musical and thematic range, veering from instant pop hits to oppressive ballads to lullaby show tunes.

Yet throughout, Lightburn’s humour and humanity shine through the heavy-handed themes – and the overall sense is one of hope.

On Find Our Way to Freedom, for instance, Lightburn’s husky vocals exchange hate for love and mercy, while sending out a statement of intent for every listener to soothe the inner loser that occasionally rears its head.

Kicking off with a dreamy synth-led intro, the album then kicks into familiar gear with the instantly catchy rolling guitar riffs and enchanting vocal melodies of former single Ticket For Immortality, which culminates in the hopeful choral chant of “the world is really going to love you”.

It then rocks things up a little, with the really gritty guitar intro of Death Or Life We Want You that harks back to a harder, 70s style. The pounding drums add an extra layer of intensity, while the vocals feel more angry.

There’s a hazy, psychedelic glow surrounding Hate Then Love, an instant album highlight that unfolds on a nicely epic scale, while the “na, na, na” intro on the slow-burning There Goes My Outfit ensures that this track is another treat.

Further highlights include the lively, slightly manic Whites Only Party which, again, includes some biting social commentary and a slightly different vocal style, and the piano-driven, beat-based Ballad of Humankindness, a track that wraps you up in its charms and leaves you with a warm glow. The boy-girl vocal trade-off is particularly effective, especially when things really get going.

It is, quite possibly, my favourite of all the tracks, especially given its structure – it slow-builds into a horn section, followed by chiming guitar riffs and a gutsy chorus that proclaims “no one should have to live all of their life on their own”.

In short, The Dears’ Gang of Losers is a firm winner that every lost soul might like to bask in.

Track listing:

  1. Sinthtro
  2. Ticket To Immortality
  3. Death Or Life We Want You
  4. Hate Then Love
  5. There Goes My Outfit
  6. Bandwagoneers
  7. Fear Made The World Go Round
  8. You And I Are A Gang Of Losers
  9. Whites Only Party #Ballad Of Humankindness
  10. I Fell Deep
  11. Find Our Way To Freedom