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Friday, Sept. 8, 2006


The Dears "Gang of Losers"

Before Arcade Fire made Montreal's indie scene famous a couple of years ago, The Dears were already attracting attention with their dark, cinematic art-pop. Since debuting in 2000 and achieving moderate success, they have also made fans out of artists -- such as Morrissey -- who had influenced them in the first place.

Here, with "Gang Of Losers," by stripping away most of the strings and horns from their previous two full-lengths, they have come up with their most rock recording to date -- but one that still retains some orchestral feel. Hushed synthesizers on the aptly titled "Sinthtro" recreate the dramatic atmosphere that dominated much of the sextet's Britpop-inspired back catalog.

Even so, it is vocalist Murray Lightburn's heartfelt sentiments that are the band's driving force. "I hang out with all the pariahs," he croons on "Ticket To Immorality," the first of several anthems for misfits. Not all his lyrics pack much punch. Refrains such as "The world is going to love you," and "We've got the same heart," come off too much like tacky bumper-sticker slogans. While some may relish them, casual rock fans are likely to tire of such sentiments.

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