The Dears, Gang of Losers

Since the Dears' 2000 debut, End of a Hollywood Bedtime Story, critics and fans alike have filed the band under the "orchestral indie pop" genre, because the band has always relied on the use of stringed and brass instruments.

But on their latest effort, playfully entitled Gang of Losers, lead vocalist Murray Lightburn has opted out for a more direct and raw sound this time, a sound that best represents the band's electrifying live shows.

Despite this little change to their sound, you can still easily compare the Dears to early Brit-pop bands like Blur, the Verve, and of course Radiohead. Yet, tracks like the first single "Ticket To Immortality," the punk-ish "Hate then Love," and the electro-beat box-infused "Ballad of Human Kindness" offer something different to their thoughtful soundscapes.

Fortunately, the holdover sounds the Dears do retain from past records is emotive drama enhanced by Lightburn's soulful croon, which has matured from years of touring.

While some might find the Dears a tad bit too dramatic for their taste, there's no doubt that with Gang of Losers, the Dears continue to build their reputation as being one of Canada's most exciting, and innovative groups. (Maple Music Recordings) Rating: 4 Out Of 5 Stars

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