Gang stars

The first half of this album is absolutely incredible and although the quality dips ever so slightly on side two, 'Gang Of Losers' is unquestionably one of the finest records this reviewer has had the pleasure of listening to in 2006.

Opening with the instrumental 'Sintro', it quickly segues into first single 'Ticket To Immortality'- a bona fide, chest beating, indie rock anthem in waiting. It swoops and soars over the grey indie masses below, imperious and untouchable in its magnificence. The listener is then subjected to the pile driving guitars of 'Death Or Life We Want You' whose harder edged sound stands in stark contrast to the Smithsian jangle pop aired on 2004's 'No Cities Left'. In fact at times on this record The Dears echo the dynamic guitar rock of Radiohead circa 'The Bends' but with added melodic richness. There's certainly that sense of barely contained frustration and helplessness at the state of everything currently going on in the world seeping out of the lyrics on this album. If the knockout opening trio of songs makes your head spin then 'Hate Then Love' will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Like all of the best songs ever written it can pick you up when you feel like your personal tank is running on empty. "You can try to break my heart but it'll never be enough" sings an impassioned Murray Lightburn and this writer is surely one of many who'll feel like throwing their arms around this man and his band to thank them for making such a life affirming pop song. Thankfully The Dears haven't lost their ability to craft elegant ballads such as the gorgeous 'There Goes My Outfit' which builds from relatively humble beginnings into something quite special. The same can be said of the epic rocker 'Bandwagoneers' which starts out like Morrissey's 'Everyday Is Like Sunday' before exploding into life. Murray Lightburn's voice has rarely sounded this good before, he sings with soul, vigour, determination and crucially, heart. The second half of the album suffers slightly from the weight of expectation built up in part one. Like a sequel to a box office smash it has its moments (most notably the energetic 'Whites Only Party') but essentially it's no match for the earlier episodes/songs that are executed in such a perfect, precise manner.

'Gang Of Losers' is a record that fulfils the promise shown on their breakthrough UK release 'No Cities Left'. It's an album to believe in from a band surely destined for critical if not commercial greatness.