The Dears on “Lovers Rock” | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Thursday, March 4th, 2021  

The Dears on “Lovers Rock”

In Case of Emergency

Jan 19, 2021 Photography by Richmond Lam Issue #67 - Phoebe Bridgers and Moses Sumney
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After 25 years of making music, The Dears know how to adapt to an altered landscape. Husband and wife Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchek, the core duo of the Montreal, Canada rock band, have navigated twists and turns across a music industry landscape that looks nothing like it did when they released their first album—to say nothing of the disastrous year 2020 was. Into this nightmare landscape The Dears dropped Lovers Rock, a twisted, melodic return-to-rock record with poignant lyrics aimed squarely at the human condition. Lovers Rock offers a balm to a beleaguered, distant world.  

“I think that’s what every Dears album starts to do,” Yanchek says. “Whether it’s a pandemic or your life is falling apart for another reason, that’s just what we do.”

“I know a lot of people connect with the songs because we’re expressing things they aren’t equipped to articulate sometimes,” Lightburn adds. “This is what we do; we specialize in this kind of communication.”

The Dears also know the value of a song just as they know the trajectory of a song isn’t always a direct line; sometimes it follows an unexpected path of twists and turns, but, in the end, it will always find its correct destination. 

“What we do it’s not for everyone. It’s for a very specific person at a very specific point in their lives,” Lightburn says. “And not everybody is there. We’re not writing songs for everyday use; we’re writing songs for a specific point in people’s lives when they need it. It’s a role we play, almost like, ‘In Case of Emergency, Break Glass.’” 

Lovers Rock wasn’t written to address our specific time and circumstances, but the album sounds eerily prescient. Songs such as “No Place On Earth” and “We’ll Go Into Hiding” allude to a not-so-distant future where we’ll find ourselves alone and drifting through a physical or metaphorical space. But Lovers Rock is punctuated by insightful rockers such as album-opener “Heart of An Animal” and the pulsing guitars and spaced out strings of “Instant Nightmare!” (Not to mention the mind-blowing Tears For Fears/Madness-like breakdown featured on “The Worst In Us.”) After spinning Lovers Rock, one might think that The Dears have an eye fixed on the future, but that’s not necessarily the case. Their music is created wholly in the present despite current circumstances but made to last for decades to come.

“[All] our work, it’s just sitting on the shelf waiting to be picked up,” Lightburn says. “As long as we’re around, one day there’s going to be kids that will discover The Dears. And we continue to experiment and push that envelope as far as we can while maintaining our identity.”

The band’s identity also dictates that integrity of the songs always comes first. The band have turned down licensing options for their music based on principle and Lightburn is wary of throwing support behind socio-political causes that ebb and flow across election cycles. Instead, they opt to “engage in the world in a positive way” as Lightburn says, and to focus on taking care of those around them, rather than forcing someone else to change. 

“You can’t make someone make changes, you can’t do it,” Lightburn says. “Because it’s not going to be real. People have to really search within themselves and really decide they’re going to make some changes. That is what we sing about constantly. That’s all we’ve been singing about for years.”

Which is why Lovers Rock is poised to resonate beyond the known universe, and forward into undiscovered spaces. While that’s nice to imagine, The Dears are much more grounded in their musical process and their music.  

“As long as the art is created, that’s our priority,” Yanchek says. “Our number one priority is making a record. And that has to stand the test of time.

[Note: This article originally appeared in Issue 67 of Under the Radar’s print magazine, which is out now. This is its debut online.

www.thedears.org

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