The Dears Talk New Album, Social Climate, & Pioneering Indie Rock

After about 25 years of making music, it’s time The Dears get recognized for what they truly are: a pioneering indie band.

Indie music nerds have no problem saying bands like Modest Mouse and Arcade Fire paved the way for alternative/indie rock. But it’s The Dears that have been giving us rocking orchestral indie tunes since 1995.

Their debut album No Cities Left from 2003 featured a sound ahead of its time, including electronic samples alongside a full live band. Their lyrics took advantage of dark themes by cleverly conveying them in an assuring way—you’d be singing along to heartbreaking lyrics and feeling grateful about it.

The Dears, “Lost In the Plot”

With their eighth studio album Lovers Rock coming out May 15, The Dears prove just how true to themselves they have been even after over two decades by dipping back into their moody roots.

“There’s been moments of ‘should this band continue to exist’ for sure, throughout our career,” The Dears vocalist/keys player Natalia Yanchak tells BTRtoday. “But there was always the motivation of, ‘we’re doing this for the music and we’re not doing it for the experience’—it’s an art project, which is so arrogant to say, but it is what it is.”

The new album, at first listen, provides The Dears’ initial melancholic and self-deprecating vibe, but becomes more clearly introspective and hopeful throughout each track. Yanachak says the “gloominess” in their sound doesn’t come from a cynical place, but rather observations of their own state and current social climate. “It’s not a political album and it’s not directly referencing any sort of events or anything like that, but it’s just a moment in time,” she says. “It’s the sort of collective mood of where things are.”

The Dears, “To Hold and Have”

Lovers Rock includes tracks entitled “The Worst In Us” and “Instant Nightmare!” but The Dears aren’t trying to convey any sort of self-loathing. These tracks use orchestral instrumentation intertwined with fuzzy electric guitar to convey confidence and reveal the light at the end of the tunnel during a time in life where everything feels stagnant and dreary.

Their newest album comes out May 15 on Dangerbird Records. In the meantime, hear the entire interview with The Dears’ Natalia Yanchak with tracks from Lovers Rock and their debut and sophomore albums on this week’s episode of The Music Meetup.