In this age of untethered access to almost anything you care to search for on-line it's a little odd that the UK is only just seeing the release of the 'new' Dears album, more than eighteen months since its US debut. 'Times Infinity Volume One', is the bands sixth album and follows on from 2011's 'Degeneration Street'.
Described as the 'edge' to Volume Two's 'middle', of the imagined jigsaw, the belated release does tie in very nicely with the band's recent European tour and also means that we'll, hopefully, have less time to wait for the second instalment; both of the albums having been 'completed in tandem'. Volume One, the lighter, of the two related albums, sees the Canadian band, headed up by Husband and Wife Murray and Natalia, in a suitably reflective mood.
The ten tracks (Well nine and a 4 secs silence with a song title) switch between the brooding and sinister. From sitting nicely at the confluence of where Interpol meets Arcade Fire ('Here's To The Death Of All The Romance'/'I Used To Pray For The Heavens'/'We Lost Everything') to a more relaxed, contemplative introspection akin to Broken Bells ('Face Of Horrors') or later Blur (To Hold And Have') 'Vol One', if nothing else, keeps you intrigued as to what's coming next.
'To Hold And Have', the album's first single, gently weaves its way through waves of strings and remorsefully toned vocals. Murray's voice sounds almost regretful, mournful even, as the carefully picked guitar, lavish strings and softly undulating beat build a foundation of tenderly expressed remorse as he conveys that all that's been fought for is still not enough. The atmosphere of the album changes throughout, never settling for too long in one place. Either because of the mix of shared or isolated vocals from the matrimonial pair, because of the content or simply through the varying arrangements Volume One never loses your interest.
The lightest of the tracks, 'You Can't Get Born Again', and ,'Someday All This Will Be Yours', are possibly the most surprising of all. Both have a soft, breezy, summer sheen to them. There's almost a French, cosmopolitan abandon running through the Natalia lead 'You Can't Get Born Again'. It's like a re-imagined 60's flavoured, Nico influenced lovers exchange.(It's easy to see why Murray has cited Serge Gainsbourg as an influence from this track alone) 'Someday All This Will Be Yours' starts in a similarly bohemian fashion, with a jangle of guitars and harmonic, wistful vocals. Both show The Dears in an alternate guise. The Felt like finale to the latter track make it one of the album's best.
Where The Dears are heavier and edgier they still excel at conveying mood and character through an array of platforms and performances. 'Here's To The Death Of All The Romance' is brooding at its best, irresistible rhythms, revolving percussion and the closest thing here to anthemic lyrics! 'I Used To Pray For The Heavens' hits home just as hard initially but quickly and deftly switches out into a more jazzy, playful arena. The mix of styles within the one song is masterfully altered as new themes are introduced before the song returns to its rockier roots as it delivers a potent, somewhat indulgent, but nevertheless enjoyable ending.
The drama remains to the close with the darker more theatrical, 'Hell Has Frozen In Your Eyes', and the tell it as it is with no sugar coating, 'Onward And Downward'..."In the end one will die alone" Natalia sings. It is a statement of fact that is usually true, however, hearing it sung does bring it home and closes out the album with a suitably abject effect.
'Times Infinity Volume One' is a very welcome return from the long absent Dears. Murray and Natalia have delivered up intrigue and surprise in their new album. There are some great songs and a brilliantly considered production quality to Volume One that only leave you with a expectation and promise of more delights on Volume Two.
Official Site -