by Max Jones
Murray A. Lightburn, of The Dears fame, has released a solo album entitled Mass:Light, and it is just that. His words are weighty, “I’ve given you everything, all that I am,” he sings on the album’s first track, “Motherfuckers.” The sounds backing up his words, though, are light as a feather, with little more than synths and hand-claps providing the backdrop for him to exercise his significant vocal ability. Those vocal stylings and arrhythmic song structures evoke the best of TV on the Radio, but given the pared down instrumentals, the songs stay just the way he wanted them: light.
Lightburn has spent over a decade being a Montreal music darling, thanks to his work fronting The Dears: an indie success that never really broke through into the mainstream, for better or worse. That never stopped them from being a cult sensation, though, and the main reason behind their indie street cred was always the stage presence of their lead singer. His presence comes through loud and clear on Mass:Light, where he makes otherwise inconsequential beats on tracks like “A Thousand Light Years” seem larger than life.
There are plenty of albums this year that are better than Lightburn’s, but none that have been more properly titled. This is a major departure from the depth and darkness of The Dears, and the synthy dance beats on the album will take some getting used to. With that being said, if you have a chance to catch his live show at Sala Rossa on November 20 for the M for Montreal festival, the mass of Lightburn’s voice will alleviate any concerns about this new direction. In such an intimate venue, the “mass-to-light ratio” will be greater than ever, and that is a good thing.