The Dears, 'Degeneration Street' (Dangerbird)

Degeneration Street
Critical Mass
Release Date: February 15, 2011
Label: Dangerbird

by Josh Modell

A corrective after 2008's overreaching downer Missiles, this Canadian band's fifth album heads back to the big, Brit-inspired sounds of 2003's No Cities Left. Singer-guitarist Murray Lightburn still shoots for Smiths-like profundity and emotional resonance -- there's talk of God and bearing crosses -- but this time he's got the hooks to back it up: "Thrones" brims with passion, as Lightburn alternates between a bold vocal melody and an angry shout. He also luxuriates in a slow jam ("Lamentation") and fondly looks back even further than the '80s ("Yesteryear").

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