Montreal-based the Dears released their fourth proper album, GANG OF LOSERS, in 2006. The theme of ostracization is one that is constant throughout the record, as lead singer and songwriter Murray Lightburn reflects on love, love lost, and generally feeling left out. It's not an entirely sad-sacked affair, however, as he offers redemptive and inclusive solace in songs like "Death or Life We Want You." Where the Dears' previous record featured ambitious structures and sundry instrumentation, this effort is a more stripped down affair, which allows the lyrics and Lightburn's vocals alone to carry the weight. Consistently melodic and pleasant, his voice is classic-indie: a little Morrissey, a little croon, with an almost velvety smoothness. This make his subjects sympathetic, and adds some depth to the mostly straightforward indie rock found on GANG OF LOSERS.
Spin (p.105) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Sonically raw but melodically rich, the Dears confront the surface contradictions in their musical identity with a defiance that's no longer just skin deep."
Spin (p.57) - Ranked #30 in Spin's "The 40 Best Albums of 2006" -- "[T]hey spin irascible outsiderdom into ultimately triumphant songs..."
Q (p.107) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[H]ere are precisely assembled, melodic songs that shiver with emotion."
Uncut (p.90) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]hese songs achieve a universal warmth thanks to Murray's impassioned delivery, especially on the record's moving title track."
Alternative Press (p.189) - "[Lightburn is] a first rate lyricist who delivers his self-deprecating tales in both a plaintive drawl and a genuinely desperate scream."
CMJ (p.37) - "[T]he Dears have always oozed an epic romanticism, wrapping their Smithsian sense of alienation in grand pop harmonies and starry-eyed orchestrations."
Vibe (p.142) - "'Ballad of Humankindness' counters Lightburn's downcast lament about loneliness and terrorism with frolicking guitars and a cheery, hopeful horn line."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.112) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he inventive, shape-shifting arrangements always go the extra mile."