The Dears - Missiles

The Dears stick to their cinematic guns and pump out developed, transfixing work where their vast polemical rabble is granted the platform it craves.

Released 28 Oct 2008 | Dangerbird | By Anne Hollowday | Rating: 3-5
The Dears - Missiles

Having seen their number dramatically decrease by three quarters during the making of this record, The Dears still haven't resorted to the embittered rage you might expect to emanate from such acrimonious goings on. Husband and wife Dears mainstays, Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchak hold the fort superbly well throughout this fourth studio album, spearheading bluesy tales of woe, suffering and even racism.

Recent goings on are lightly elaborated upon in 'Crisis 1 & 2', a not-so-subtle dig at their outgoing bandmates. "Don't let me down" sings Yanchak in her effortless, lo-fi vocals that ooze vulnerability. Lightburn interjects "I can't look back"; the two fused together are an intimidating force. But it's the balmy strumming on 'Lights Off' that proves to be truly standout fare. An epic eight minutes of ethereal, dreamy surrealism borrowing from Radiohead's lulling soundscapes in droves, it confirms Lightburn and Yanchak to be formidable luminaries. Difficult to work with they may be, but it might just be in other people's best interests to try a little harder to get along with them.

And so, their rent-a-bandmate pals get their chance to shine. 'Demons' is awash with collective choral harmonies upheld against a backdrop littered with noisy rhythm guitar and oscillating drums. 'Money Babies', too, is replete with a collective identity; the elsewhere favoured wispy thin arrangements sidelined for chugging cymbal bashing and racing riffs.

Lightburn's ability to adapt tunes that would forever hover in mediocrity in the hands of other artists is exemplary. Where they might favour edited three minute, punchier versions of the songs, The Dears stick to their cinematic guns and pump out developed, transfixing work where their vast polemical rabble is granted the platform it craves. With a running time of almost an hour, 'Missiles' is certainly not monolithic, but it's not the kind of rough-hewn cacophonic hotpotch you might expect either. This is a beautifully crafted tangible and linear collection that sees a return to form for The Dears. Let's just hope it's not their last.