The Dears: ICA, London, Monday, June 26

Canada’s Brit-centrics throw off the darkness to live life in colour

Hey, it’s The Dears! Remember them? Six-strong Montreal miserablists? Purveyors of irresistibly doomy yet utterly romantic pop? Blur fanatics and, following his seal-clubbing boycott, Canada’s Morrissey methadone? Well, after a year’s absence they’re back to shake off the Britpop and Smiths comparisons and stretch out in cinemascope to stalk the mainstream’s fringes.

Of course, they’re still doomy. But as the volume quickly scales up to maximum for tonight’s preview of forthcoming album ‘Gang Of Losers’, The Dears are throwing off the preconceptions of others. It’s as if they no longer want to watch from the sidelines and are instead diving into the heart of the matter in an attempt to cause as much mayhem as possible.

‘Bandwagoneers’ and ‘Whites Only Party’ brim with a new confidence that allows them to address political, rather than personal matters. That’s followed by ‘Hate Then Love’ – on which Murray seems to be tearing the “you can try to break my heart” refrain from deep within himself, making it one of the most aggressive love songs recently penned. It’s surpassed by ‘You And I Are A Gang Of Losers’, on which he remarkably cranks up several more gears to capture both ecstasy and heartbreak within a single, primal vocal.

It’s a mark of how strong the new material sounds that older songs like ‘Never Destroy Us’ and ‘Postcard From Purgatory’ appears hazy compared to the influx of new blood – tonight The Dears aren’t dwelling on their past. Their new toys show the band have widened their vision and are embracing these new horizons.

In the past they’ve danced in the dark, but now they’re playing with the light – The Dears have emerged from

the shadows.

Paul Stokes