The Dears always felt like the weird cousin of the ’00s Canadian indie scene, trying to cover the darker elements of every other Montreal band, then paint them blacker still. I had an uneasy relationship with 2003’s No Cities Left back then, most fans’ introduction to the band. “Lost in the Plot” showcased a latent fury, while “22: The Death of All the Romance” felt like a revelation, one of those glorious moments when every element of a band conspires to coalesce, to nail that high note they’d been keening for. Even the title, laying down what would prove to be a lifelong preoccupation with the marriage of death and romance, seemed like a summation of their work. From beneath a patchwork of influences, there arose a singular voice that dared to sound quite unlike anyone else.
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