The Dears ï¿½ Canadaï¿½s best kept-secret no more ï¿½ is finally getting some of the recognition it deserves. In 2002, the band released the Protest EP in Canada only, wrapping it in hand-made packaging by the band. Two years later, after the hysteria of No Cities Left caused prolific eyebrow-raising worldwide, even by the likes of Morrissey, the Montrealers re-released their second EP in a fancy jewel case.
One of the great things about the Dears is the buildup, the single bass line looping for ten minutes until it explodes alongside singer/guitarist Murray Lightburn screaming his vocal cords out, as conveyed here by opener ï¿½Heaven, Have Mercy on Usï¿½ and the over-the-top Psychokiller ï¿½Summer of Protest.ï¿½ None of the Dearsï¿½ songs offer any closure, which is partially why itï¿½s so endearing — sometimes almost eerie.
Protest lacks some of the mechanics found on 2004ï¿½s Orchestral Pop Noir Romantique EP, which tends to be more instrumental and produced. Tons of jangly tambourines, cellos and darker sounds line the album, which favors the original Dears sound.
Still, Protest isnï¿½t without merit, despite that it almost sounds like the members were fresh out of art school. The bio describes it as ï¿½a harrowing mini-concept-album that rolled operatic hysteria, ominous post-punk rumbling and cosmic Christmas music into a soundtrack to the end of the world.ï¿½ The remix of the opener could have been left out, but Protest is a decent precursor to No Cities Left, an orchestral concept album paying homage to the Smiths, the demise of romance, and heartbreak.