Slowly, Sadly Decaying: The Dears, Degeneration Street.

It feels like a veritable era since Murray Lightburn's The Dears scuffled into indie spotlight to the reworked chime of The Smiths. Last year marked fifteen years of activity and whilst they may not have been the most proactive nor progressive act over said period, there's a beguiling allure to Lightburn's demure songsmithery, continued throughout Degeneration Street, that may having you swanning back to his affected hum. Opener Omega Dog evolves before your very ears, spawning amidst spare bedroom chinks of guitar and deceasing in a hailstorm of chunks of raucous virtuosity. Crude mawkishness is then reincarnated in 5 Chords, a lost vagueness, a middle ground between the hollow mellowness of early Bloc Party and funereal Arcade Fire urgency, before the rather more intriguing baroque rock of Blood sees Lightburn disappearing into layers of gravelled distortion like Henry VIII gorging on gristled meat limbs, four relentless minutes of vehement guitar vitriol. All too often Lightburn's vox are all too reminiscent of the humble drone of Dev Hynes under the limp Lightspeed Champion guise (Thrones, Tiny Man, Unsung) and whilst it's worth alluding to the historical matter that Hynes was still busy bookworming at Chadwell Heath when Lightburn first ventured out into the glare of indie cynicism, perhaps subsequently, on retrospective listen, the seminal No Cities Left LP of 2003 will forever be marred by indelible monotony through no fault of The Dears' own. The almost ecclesiastical, overtly euphoric interlude that is Torches is quite triumphant, whilst the aestival jaunt of Yesteryear is prime Canadian melodrama, yet you sense that The Dears too, having partially disintegrated intermittently over time are deteriorating, rather than developing. Quite tragically, it seems as though the light may have finally gone out.