With Every Listen, Limitless Imagination
Times Infinity Volume Two, the new album by The Dears, is like a rock — solid all the way through. Each one of these songs could fit perfectly on a movie soundtrack; they all reflect their titles in the sense that an abundance of images and feelings come to mind when listening to each one.
Starting with “Taking It to the Grave,” this album displays colorful, descriptive music, in the same way Kanye’s music is more full and vivid than that of other (albeit more skilled) rappers. The end of an incomplete life is in sight in this opening track, a life lacking in full satisfaction. No one wants to imagine an improper goodbye or never knowing the thing he/she wants most to know, and The Dears paint a picture of such a beautiful sadness, saving listeners from ever having to experience something like a slow end to life. There’s no way for people to know what it’s like to truly die, but damn if Murray Lightburn and Natalie Yanchak (the two vocalists of the trio) don’t do a mighty fine job. It’s a great, strong tune to open the album, yet its end-of-life theme and melancholy sound might make it a better closer. Musically, the song has some Frusciante-inspired guitar after the intro and a rather haunting synth at the very start. It travels through different grooves and is a story in and of itself — a microcosm for the entire album.
The album “reads” like both a collection of short stories as well as an autobiography and, naturally, all stories have some duller moments, as with “I’m Sorry I Wished You Dead,” for one. It’s the most forgettable once it’s done playing, but its message is one glazed with regret, one of many themes touched upon in Times Infinity Volume Two. Sonically, a fair chunk of this album is reminiscent of high school movie music, like that of Napoleon Dynamite or Pretty in Pink, stories set in small towns — “1998” and “All the Hail Marys” in particular.
The lyrics in tandem with the instrumentation really help to get the feelings across in this album, with neither half being weak. Standout lines include, “Everybody falls to pieces / some never get the chance to break down” (“All the Hail Marys”), “Fighting until death row is the only thing for us” (“Until Deathrow”), and pretty much all of “Nothing in It For You Nothing in It For Me.” While “Taking It to the Grave” could easily pass as a final track, “End of Tour” does its job quite successfully. The harmonica is an excellent embellishment that oozes with tiredness and a readiness to call it a day. And, damn, that guitar riff — as well as almost all the guitar parts on the album — pulls the song together oh so nicely.
Albums like these are hard to review. Yes, they’re good and enjoyable to listen to, but there’s simply so much that listeners can take from it in terms of interpretation, associated feelings and imagery that if one man’s perspective were presented as law it would be like giving out Oscar wins from a panel of one. Infinity is a singular constant, something that does not exist more than once; but The Dears illustrate what it must be like to look in the face of something unreal. Check this one out, folks.