Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
The Dears lead singer Murray Lightburn was in a wheeling and dealing mood when he and his band traveled a bit out of their way to pay the Daytrotter Horseshack a visit last year. It's not as if he had his checkbook lying out on the top of the piano, ready to cut one for everything that he saw, but he was sufficiently geeking out about his surroundings this afternoon, eyeballing certain pieces of gear, wanting and needing to add them to his collection. He was rummaging through the "graveyard," where all of the broken parts and machines sit in repose until someone has the time and the know-how to open them up and try to make them live again. Lightburn seemed to find magic and an undeniable desire to touch and be with some of those maimed pieces of gear as well. He left with the deadly serious comment, "Let me know if you want to get rid of any of this stuff." And with that, he was out the door, off to that night's show, having left behind a session that brings to mind the curious case of a man who could be so infatuated with the various outboard pieces that could help transform sounds into the sounds that he gushes over, the sounds that he can't resist. Lightburn and his other mainstay in the Canadian group, Natalia Yanchak, keep ears alight with offerings of dripping, candle waxed emotions and sentiments, letting them fall over us on "Lights Off" as if they were tumbling in the slowest of motions, just trickling down and over our faces and bodies like Daddy-long-legs'. The most exciting pieces of the tapestry - for Lightburn - must be all of the little nuances that make themselves heard and felt through all of the breakdowns and interludes, where the members of his band add all kinds of sonic interpretations full of different tones and feelings, all of which must be derived from the kind of mind that can still be wowed just by looking at a boxy-shaped lump of circuits and tubes that holds the promise of sounds fulfilled. The band's latest record, "Missiles," of which this entire session is drawn from, features songs that work you, that lull you carefully and then they burst open like water mains in the ice cold conditions of winter, spraying all over the place before getting back to the way things were before the outburst. Lightburn and Yanchek's vocals hover with each other on "Crisis 1 & 2," with Yanchak singing, "Don't let me down," as if it's not really a huge worry, just something that she wanted to put out there and have heard. Lightburn follows with a need to know how much someone cares and below these bits of insecurity come end-of-the-world bass lines, full of doom. The many flourishes that Lightburn and the rest of the Dears inflect into their songs are the touches of people who appreciate the little aspects, the smell of the roses and such. It's more fascinating that they come within the walls of these slowly working, but fairly pummeling works of dark sensations that hint at a group of people keeping their fingers crossed that the world's not going to get wiped out completely, that there might be another morning to wake up to and if neither of those are real possibilities, then there's a lot of making the most of this to do. Lightburn sings about entering into the darkness on "Lights Off," just asking to be held tight, as if that one person with those two loving arms will soften the blow. And even if that's not the case, he's going to put all of the chips on the table - all of the tricks and sounds he's ever wanted will be his before the final ending.
The Dears Official Site