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First Play: The Dears, Times Infinity Volume Two

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Andrea Gin

Last year, Montreal orchestral pop-noir denizens the Dears emerged from hibernation with Times Infinity Volume One, their first album in six years. Next week, they will release Volume Two, and we have it streaming right here a week ahead of its release.

Both albums were written over a two-year period and recorded during summer 2014 and spring 2015 at Toronto's Revolution Recording and Montreal's Hotel2Tango. The band members quickly realized they would have to divide the material into two distinct entities when they started recording.

“We knew very early on that we were making a double album but also knew that a double album in one go was not the way to release this stuff,” explains singer/guitarist Murray Lightburn via email. “The trick was establishing roles of each song; openers, closers, centre pieces, ends of sides et cetera. These components became really apparent after the first two-week marathon session we did in Toronto. There was no talk of 'singles' or potential 'radio singles' or anything like that. It was a bit like putting together a baseball team — twice.”

The band refers to Volume Two as the “much darker” effort of the pair, and listening to songs like “Nothing in it for me Nothing in it for You,” “I’m Sorry That I Wished you Dead,” and “All the Hail Marys,” it’s hard to argue that point. However, while the album lyrically might seem more negative than its predecessor, Lightburn says there’s also an underlying feeling of acceptance to the proceedings.

Times Infinity Volume One is still fighting for its ideals while there is a more weathered and aged-ness to the second volume,” he says. “There is a strong sense of realization on Times Infinity Volume Two and all feeling of innocence and blind optimism is replaced with hard realities setting in … and you’re A-OK with all of it. So maybe it’s not that dark.”

This album marks the seventh studio album for the Dears, who have been together for more than 20 years. At this point, you might think you know what to expect from Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchak’s smouldering, dramatic anthems of love, but on Times Infinity Volume Two they prove that’s not necessarily the case. This album shows them to be a band that is still playing with new ideas and experimenting with different sounds. Lightburn says that sense of discovery is what keeps them going.

“The Dears will continue to craft these ridiculous records and keep trying to play them live because that is what the Dears does,” he writes. “After all these years, the path of discovery still lies before them and they are still going on new adventures, kinda like … the Enterprise.”

Time Infinity Volume Two comes out on July 14 via Paper Bag Records. You can pre-order it here. The Dears will be performing No Cities Left (their second album) at La Tulipe on Sept. 15 at Pop Montreal, followed by a tour of the U.K. this fall. Find out the dates here.