The Dears – Protest is the concept mini-album for attention deficit disorder sufferers. 500 handmade copies of Protest were released in 2003, but the demand for the Canadian band’s music is almost as high as the demand for Canadian pharmaceuticals, so Ace Fu Records re-released Protest late last year. The Dears were formed in 1995 by Murray Lightburn who has been the one constant since. They are endlessly compared to The Smiths and Blur and their full lengths do explore the same sonic territory, but Protest is a different matter.
The concept is nothing less than apocalyptic revolution and destruction and it all takes place in the course of three songs. The fulcrum of the album is “Summer Of Protest” and the musical cues come from The Doors “Five To One” and Joy Division. It’s heavy and hypnotic and undeniably powerful. The Dears orchestral grandeur and bleak pomp on this disc could be the soundtrack of the next riot or just be a soundtrack. There is ambiguity in this art for just as you’ve decided to run off and join a movement, any movement against authority, the lyrics lead to “start up a revolution, revolution for fools” and the jackboot nightmare is only a shout away. The album finishes with “No Hope Before Destruction” and we’re left with a description I once read of the ending of The 400 Blows – bleakness of the penultimate shot. There is no sweet and chewy center, only a piano flourish at the end that I wish would have become a boogie-woogie riff. That would have been some sweet irony.
Rolling Stone magazine has picked The Dears as a rock band to watch, but don’t let that scare you away from experiencing them. Murray Lightburn and cohorts are definitely on to something. Eschatological music has never been this much fun.