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No Cities Left

The Dears

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Album Review

Murray Lightburn, "writer and director" for the Montreal collective the Dears' elegant vocal style, gets plenty of Morrissey comparisons — and rightly so — but the Mozz would never be caught delivering a line like "It's the same old plot to these things," from the electrifying "Lost in the Plot," in a full-on primal scream. Lightburn may be a hopeless romantic, but his Canadian version of wine-drunk British doom and gloom owes a great deal more to bands like the Auteurs and the London Suede. No Cities Left, the group's long-awaited follow-up to 2001's critically acclaimed End of a Hollywood Bedtime Story, is a sweeping chamber pop nightmare of post-apocalyptic heartbreak. Lightburn reluctantly visits the breakup ("We Can Have It"), the all-consuming grief ("The Death of All Romance"), false hopes of reconciliation ("The Second Part"), and finally, nerve-twitching acceptance ("No Cities Left"). All of this misery is wrapped in a mid-'80s Britpop wrapper that takes more twists and turns than the London paparazzi following Princess Di, resulting in a record that at its best sounds like a suicidal combination of Blur and the Divine Comedy — "Never Destroy Us," the winsome duet with keyboardist Natalia Yanchak is a fine example. The problem is, the skies are eternally gray in the Dears' Great White North, and though they may have successfully wrapped the smoky fingers of cabaret around the throat of rock & roll, the listener can't help but go down with the sad-sack ship. It's both long and long-winded. But it's hard not to ultimately fall for No Cities Left, even though there's a lingering sense of emptiness that permeates the air above it. In fact, maybe that's what Lightburn's trying to say: that in the end, it's what you put into the moment that matters, even if it's a knife. [The Australian version of No Cities Left includes the bonus four-track Protest EP.]

Customer Reviews


I remember hearing Lost in the Plot back when this album came out, and it was something I've never heard before.

I grew up on punk and alternative styles of music, and suddenly this got to me and added a whole other side of the spectrum to my taste in music.

Now my taste in music rotates around in a circle so quickly that I can't even begin to keep up, but whenever I stop I always land on this album.

Rock Solid

I could say alot about this album. But I'm just going to let it speak for itself. From start to finish you will enjoy this whole album and it's an amazing introduction to this band. Listen to some samples and I'm sure it will be enough to hook you.


Formed: 1995 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

The Dears, a loose collective of Montreal-area musicians formed in 1995, are led by the charismatic Murray Lightburn. Citing Serge Gainsbourg as a major influence, the band combines cabaret-style vocals with a moody, intense brand of orchestral pop/rock. Lightburn's vision for the band is to create music out of real emotions, often giving his performances the feel of a musical therapy session. Given the level of intensity that this vision can require, it's not surprising that the Dears have endured...
Full Bio