Music Reviews
Lovers Rock

The Dears Lovers Rock

(Dangerbird) Rating - 4/10

There should always be something interesting happening with bands that are built around a couple. With great groups that feature a romantic relationship at the core, there’s always juicy details and dramatic insight that never ends up tabloid-ish or unnatural. With The Dears, a band that describes themselves as noir rock, you’d expect something good to happen at least once on their latest album. Their eighth full-length release, Lovers Rock, is smothered in lazy organ sounds, chugging acoustic guitars, hazy electric guitars, and undermixed drums, but not even that awkward clash of tones is memorable. Each song seems like it stumbles into place, and not once does it produce any catchy or memorable moments.  It’s almost impressive how uninteresting it all is.

The duo in question here is singer/guitarist Murray Lightburn and occasional singer and keyboardist Natalia Yanchak, and even though they're two creative forces in The Dears, there’s barely a spark here. Both vocalists sing with the lifelessness of a DMV worker, and the instrumentation is about just as enthralling. Opener Heart of an Animal gives you a second of hope when the crunchy guitars and live drums pop up in an electrifying sweep, only to get back to Lightburn’s halfhearted delivery and horrible falsetto on the chorus. The song’s back half acts as a funeral march towards a final chorus, and it’s all over in a thudding five minutes.

The following track, I Know What You’re Thinking And It’s Awful, has an even more difficult chorus, one that you hate while you’re listening to in a visceral sense—and this is somehow only the second song on the album. Very rarely, this album finds a moment of excitement. And when they do, you have to savor them, because you aren’t going to get another one for a while. The Worst in Us feels like it’s got a little bit of fire under it with its spacey guitars and choppy drum programming, but it’s also got a genuinely surprising mid-song shift that winds up the album’s most captivating section. It’s also a song that explores a relationship dynamic with more urgency. The second half drifts through space with uncertainty, as if they decided reverb was a solid substitution for a song that was actually constructed and worked on. A spare saxophone pops up on Stille Lost, but that cannot save a song and album that feels like it’s swimming in circles. Just let it drown already, god.