By Joel Anderson (Art & Poetry Editor)
Artist: The Dear Hunter
Release Date: April 2, 2013
In April, The Dear Hunter released its latest album Migrant. Their first disc after 2011’s monumental The Color Spectrum project; the Nine EP set with each record representing a different color of the visible spectrum. Two years later and the influence of the project can be seen on Migrant.
The Rhode Island based band has made its mark on the music scene with their unique combination of progressive/jazz/pop/and indie ever since their 2007 full length debut album Act II: The Meaning of, and the All Things Regarding Ms. Leading, the second chapter in a six part story.
Picking up where The Color Spectrum left off, band leader Casey Crescenzo continues his journey away from the concept album toward a more streamlined pop album.
Migrant trades in the progressive rock influence found throughout the rest of the Dear Hunter’s catalogue and goes toward a more somber/melancholic pop. It’s the bands most personal to date, as Crescenzo has said he wanted to make a personal record this time.
The songs range from the anthemic to the introspective. And although the album doesn’t harness more of the hard rock influences like previous releases, what influences the record does focus on executes them beautifully.
The album starts off with the tender “Bring You Down,” which starts off as a simple piano drive song before it kicks in to a power pop groove after the first chorus. The record picks up even further with the next track and lead single “Whisper.” Its gang vocal choruses and chugging string intro and fast beat lends itself perfectly to become an anthem.
“Shame” brings the record down a bit, with its mischievous keyboard intro and slithering melody line. And although Crescenzo holds back more on his trademark aggressive vocals on this track, he does use his falsetto range impeccably for this song.
“An Escape” picks the tempo back up with its charging bass line intro and never let go until its release with the final choruses; another song that makes it on the list of antemic songs off the album, featuring more gang vocals and spaced out guitars.
“Shouting at the Rain” has a California pop vibe to it, with its mellow vocals, sweet slide guitar line and mellow back beat, it’s easy to be transported to some beach as the sun is beating on you; despite the melancholy lyrics accompanying the delightful music. This song, along with “Bring You Down,” “Whisper,” and “Girls,” are the stand out on the album.
“The Kiss of Life,” pulls the same bait and switch as “Bring You Down” did, beginning with a somber, atmospheric intro that kicks into a mid tempo rocker. Its chorus of jangly guitars and syncopated drums beats make it hard for anyone not to dance along while belting out the lyrics right along with Crescenzo. The break down in this song is one of the “hardest” moments of the record.
“Girls” is by far the most aggressive song on the whole album, which for this album, isn’t saying much, as it’s still only a mid tempo rocker at best with distorted guitars and even the drums in the beginning. This is also a turning point in the album, as most the songs after this point are mostly piano drive songs.
“Cycles” begins in a dreamlike state, which continues through the song. Spacey, reverb drenched guitars and Crescenzos laid back vocal delivery are what makes the song so dreamy.
“Sweet Naiveté” is a piano ballad with a lilting melody. This song deals with a loss of innocence. And I think it can be interpreted in two different ways. One is the loss of God in one’s life, losing the naïve notion there is a supreme being in the universe. The other being the end of a relationship and realizing the childhood expectations are false.
“Let Go” is the records second most aggressive song. With its stabbing descending guitar octaves and bombastic drums it rocks more than any other track on the record. But it doesn’t maintain this mood; it dials it back for the verses. Which is a shame, because the slower parts hinder the overall greatness of the song.
“This Vicious Place” is the weakest song on the album. It just doesn’t do anything. It opens with a simple piano line and settles in a dreary, slow and unexciting groove. It ends with a silky smooth, Wilco-esque guitar solo. Overall, it’s just a boring track.
“Don’t Look Back” is the albums finale and it’s a dark and moody track to end with. With a haunting guitar line and acrobatic melody line, it’s a great album closer. It perfectly reflects the rest of the album, with its refrain of “don’t look back,” Crescenzo warns the listener not to dwell on past experiences for too long. And after an album of reflective and introspective songs, it’s sound advice.
Overall, Migrant is a beautiful record with some promising moments. Although there are a few stumbles, it’s bound to become classic in The Dear Hunter’s canon. I’m excited to see what Crescenzo and co. put out next. I’m hoping for Act IV. But if Migrant proves one thing, it’s that The Dear Hunter are able to put out an album outside of the concept album, and still be a successful band.