After listening to the new Dears album for the better part of a week, I'm of the opinion that the best live band of 2005 have finally knocked a studio album out of the park with Gang of Losers. As explained to Pitchfork, the album was recorded mostly live in single takes and I think that's the secret to its success -- it really feels alive. (It also doesn't hurt that they'd come off a very productive year of constant touring, by the end of which they were completely on fire.) The playing is fantastic, some really perfect little guitar flourishes, and George Donoso's drum fills are worthy of Thin Lizzy.
And Murray sings it like he means it. Nobody will accuse him of sounding like Morrissey (or Damon Albarn) this time. The songs are still bombastic, but there is real heart behind it. I cannot wait for them to play NYC... and I'm praying they will stay at Bowery Ballroom (or Northsix) for at least one more show before the eventual move to cruddy Webster Hall.
Here's a taste of Gang of Losers that you may recognize if you saw The Dears play live last year. They opened up most shows with it -- a real power anthem suitable for holding boomboxes aloft in Lloyd Dobbler style:
The Dears - "You and I Are a Gang of Losers"