The Montreal-based Dears formed in 1995, but achieved little to no success for nearly a decade. Led by vocalist and arranger Murray Lightburn, The Dears initially wore their influences of their sleeves. Their debut album sounds as though mid-90s Blur invited Serge Gainsbourg to join them. Released in 2000,
End of a Hollywood Bedtime Story offers an eight-song introduction to the Canadian collective. Song structure has remained a large part of The Dears' unique vision. Songs run anywhere from eleven minutes long, to just over a minute; each song, however, is integral to the entire album. Key and time signature changes, long instrumental interludes and heavy, weighty lyrics permeate every track the Dears create. This dramatic and intense style, coupled with the band's long-delayed success, inevitably led to several lineup changes. The band has gone through several bass players, a guitarist and a drummer.
In 2001, The Dears set out to record a follow-up album, but it didn't surface until late 2004. In the mean time, Canadian exports such as Metric, Stars, and Broken Social Scene gained tremendous credibility and popularity, and suddenly the mercurial indie scene was ready to call The Dears its own, warmly receiving the band's dense, theatrical, vaguely Brit-pop No Cities Left. The same year The Dears also released a live album and a pair of EPs, Orchestral Pop Noir Romantique and The Protest EP.