The Dears are no stranger to the limelight. Formed in 1995 by Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchak, the Quebec group has enlightened listeners with their alternative sounds for quite sometime now. So when Times Infinity Volume Two debuted, I was ready to hear new music from a band with the reputation of having a traditional indie sound. Past songs, including “Lost in the Plot” and “22: The Death of All the Romance,” had set up a basis on which I could compare this album.
It’s only been two years since the Volume One album, but not much has changed since then. This is a two-sided coin: there is a major risk of being repetitive. However, it seems that the band has simply added on with Volume Two and even ameliorated certain aspects of their music, adding modern twists here and there.
Starting out is “Taking It to the Grave,” the debut song. Often times, the first track should be a strong one considering first impressions are everything. While instrumentally well produced with perfectly placed guitar interludes and interspersing violin bits, the vocals leave something to be desired. We are, however, introduced to the impressive originality and advantageous use of instruments this band seems to have a good control on. Often times, bands rely on the front man’s vocals too heavily, leaving an empty space in the rest of the song – but this obviously isn’t the case with The Dears.
One stand-out song is “Of Fisticuffs,” which certainly reminds me of their earlier work. It’s a complex song with many things going on all at once – vocals, backup harmonies, heavy bass, and lots of “oohs.” Everything in its entirety would almost seem to overwhelm the listener, and it almost does. Something makes it all blend together in a way that makes it enticing to listen to even though the ears may have difficulty differentiating everything going on.
One of the longer songs on the album and certainly the song with the longest title, “Nothing in It for Me Nothing in It for You” is a slow, languid song that details a failing relationship. The sadder lyrics mixed with a lethargic rhythm create almost a ballad if not for the darker topic. It’s bristling but honest lyrics open up a world of a struggling love as the main focus. Plenty of tracks on this album have heavy emphasis on the lyrics rather than the instrumentals. It seems like an either-or situation, either there are strong lyrics or a strong emphasis on the guitar or other tunes. We don’t seem to get a mixture of the two.
Gliding orchestral sounds envelop everything in “I Love You Times Infinity.” It opens with an almost 80’s sounding ditty and transitions into a cascade of strings. This paired with lyrics about “I am loving you forever” makes for a romantic indie song that is real and open. It pays tribute to an everlasting and infinite love, one that we can assume the husband-wife duo of the group has.
This album, although it has tiny bits of inconsistency and not enough blending and melding of sound, is an overall good listen coming from a veteran group. They stayed true to their roots of having orchestral influenced music with darker lyrics all while bringing new ideas to the table.