Personnel: Murray Lightburn (vocals, guitar); Natalia Yanchak (vocals, keyboards); Patrick Krief (guitar); François Pilon, Heather Schnarr (violin); Ligia Paquin (viola); Sheila Hannigan (cello); Liam O'Neil (flute, saxophone); Chris Seligman (French horn); Evan Cranley (trombone); Roberto Arquilla (bass guitar); Jeff Luciani (drums).
Recording information: Hotel2Tango, Ville De Montreal (2014); Revolution Recording, Toronto (2014).
Photographer: John Todd .
Arranger: The Dears.
The much anticipated follow-up to 2011's excellent Degeneration Street, Times Infinity 1 is the first installment of a planned two-part collection of new music from the Montreal-based indie rock/post-rock unit led by Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchak. Written and recorded over a two-year span, the ten-track set feels both epic and intimate, hopeful and apocalyptic, which is to say it sounds like a classic Dears album. Opener "We Lost Everything" is an elliptical three-chord anti-anthem that rolls in like an unstable late-summer storm and leaves a trail of emotional carnage in its wake, but where earlier Dears outings would double down on the darkness, Times Infinity isn't set on dwelling only on life's myriad futilities. Ensuing cuts like the lush and unabashedly tender chamber pop ballad "To Hold and Have," the glitch and groove-heavy "Someday All This Will Be Yours," and the electro-Soweto-tinged "I Used to Pray for the Heavens to Fall," the latter of which wouldn't have sounded out of place on fellow Montrealers Arcade Fire's Reflektor, are flush with secret smiles and wounded hope, which Lightburn more eloquently describes in a press release as "sentimentality but in the face of great uncertainty; the concept of eternal love and all its fragility." That notion rings the most true on the late-album highlight "Face of Horrors," a knotty baroque pop gem that evokes the sumptuous melancholy of the Zombies' Odessey and Oracle tempered with the tenacious, hard-truth optimism of Soft Bulletin-era Flaming Lips. Fittingly, the record ends with Yanchak declaring that "in the end one will die alone," but the statement comes off less like a lament and more like a call to arms. Times Infinity 1 is the Dears' most emotionally honest set of songs to date; it's the sound of a once dystopia-obsessed band wrestling with the idea that the light at the end of the tunnel might not be a train. ~ James Christopher Monger