Gang Of Losers
The Dears are an odd bunch. After nigh on ten years of plugging away at the Montreal music scene, it looked like 2004's No Cities Left would be it for them. That was until the Arcade Fire came along and stole all their thunder with their classier orchestral arrangements even weirder and husband and wife team, like some kind of musical Lester and Eliza. What must have really stuck in Murray Lightburn's craw, though, was the constant Britpop revival barbs thrown at them, and the lack of recognition they received for what is actually a very good record.
Well, whatever it was, Gang Of Losers catches the band more pissed off than ever, the guitars turned up to 11, and bigger topics being addressed("Ballad of Humankindness and particularly "Whites Only Party" tackle racism head on, with mixed results), and any rumours of them stripping down their lush sound largely rebuffed. Sure, there are less brow furrowing orchestral pieces, but tracks like "Ticket To Immortality" and "Fear Made The World Go Round" are crammed with instrumentation and are all the better for it.
Whereas the overriding theme of No Cities Left was loneliness and
separation, Gang Of Losers is saddled with uncomfortable lyrical motifs about being outsiders, the title being the biggest clue. This idea is forced on you from the beginning, but at times you get the feeling that it might be slightly tongue-in-cheek, particularly on "Ticket To Immortality" when Lightburn croons, "I hang out with all the pariahs", perhaps he knows that "outsiders" in the rock community are ten-a-penny? The melodramatic earnestness of tracks like "I Fell Deep" suggests no. The message is confused rather than ambiguous and muddies the record somewhat.
Overall, Gang of Losers is very much like The Dears' other two records, one part brilliant, two parts frustrating, and often leaving you wondering when they will make the classic they've often threatened to make.