THE SPILL MAGAZINE ARTIST PORTRAIT:
The Dears, a loose collective of Montreal-area musicians formed in 1995, are led by the charismatic Murray Lightburn. Citing Serge Gainsbourg as a major influence, the Dears combine cabaret-style vocals with a moody, intense brand of orchestral pop/rock. Lightburn’s vision for the band is to create music out of real emotions, often giving his performances the feel of a musical therapy session. Given the level of intensity that this vision can require, it’s not surprising that the Dears have endured numerous member defections, including a guitarist, a drummer, and two bass players. The Dears released their debut CD, End of a Hollywood Bedtime Story, on Grenadine Records in 2000. In early 2001, they recorded the follow-up, tentatively titled Deuxième Partie, and in 2004, the critically acclaimed full-length No Cities Left was released. Lightburn and longtime Dears keyboardist Natalia Yanchak were married the following year, and in 2006 the band released the stripped-down Gang of Losers. Missiles arrived in 2008, followed by the group’s fifth studio album, the Polaris Music Prize-nominated Degeneration Street, in 2011. In 2013 Lightburn issued a solo LP, and in 2015 the Dears returned with the first installment of a two-part album called Times Infinity, Vol. 1. The second volume arrived in July 2017.