Friday, June 24, 2011

The Dear Hunter - The Color Spectrum

Let me make it clear from the start: there are two versions of this album. One, is a series of nine EPs, each with four songs representing a specific color, and all 9 are brought together as one 36 track album. Two, is a shortened version with just one song from each EP (two from Green and White). I'm going to be discussing the former. But to touch briefly on the shortened version, I think it totally undermines the concept of the album and doesn't showcase the best of the music. Now on to the real stuff.
The Dear Hunter is the baby of Casey Crescenzo, who some of you might know as the frontman of post-hardcore band The Receiving End of Sirens when they were still around. Casey abandoned TREoS to focus entirely on The Dear Hunter, which, while it has a changing line up of instrumentalists, is all Casey's vision. The band's three previous albums have all been focused on one concept, which has yet to end. This album has nothing to do with that concept. So some fans (including myself) were a bit apprehensive at first, wondering if the change in concept would also have a drastic, unwanted change in sound. Well while there's definitely been a change I'm glad to say they haven't disappointed.
As I said earlier, this LP revolves around nine EPs based on colors. So essentially the album is in nine sections. It's a 36 track, two and a half hour beast. But you can take a section out of the album, listen to it by itself, and still get quite a bit out of it. Each section is labeled with it's color at the end of the song. The album starts with the appropriately brooding and dark Black songs, and by the end comes to the clean and pristine White songs. Each section has it's own distinct style, mood, and sometimes even genre. For example while the first few colors have a very distinct rock spine to hold it together, it slowly moves into a light hearted and acoustic driven tracks, and then even into songs driven more by the electronics than the instruments, and by the end it comes full circle. One might fear that the album as a whole is schizophrenic and thinly spread, but in my opinion it flows together almost seamlessly and takes you on a full journey through "the color spectrum". It takes you through so many moods while never quite wearing you down. And outside of just the concept, despite how long this album is there are few songs I'd consider "throw away tracks" let alone any sort of filler. It's a good thing that an LP this long changes tone and style so frequently otherwise you'd get incredibly bored incredibly fast. For the most part each section fits it's color damn well, however there are some that at least in my idea of colors turned to music doesn't fit much at all. Mostly Red and Blue. I expected Red to be a lot more emotion driven, as it is the color of passion, but it seems to fall short a bit. And since it is the second section of the LP one might feel discouraged by then, but I encourage you to stick through it. Blue doesn't seem sad or "rainy day"ish enough for me personally. But colors are such interpretable things that you may feel totally different than me! That's what I find so great about this concept.
The album does have some minor problems though. As with anything that has this many styles, moods, and genres thrown in the mix, you're bound to like some parts more than others, and maybe not like some at all. I discussed the album with a friend that also likes this band and we had some pretty far differing opinions on some of the colors and which were best musically. But such things are bound to happen. And while I said earlier that there weren't anything I considered to be throw away tracks, it does feel sometimes like the album falls into less than exciting moments and one with a short attention span might get quickly distracted and want to move away. Speaking of short attention spans, you might have been turned off the second I said "two and a half hours long". If it really is that much of a problem I suggest you check out the 12 track, much shorter version. Although I really think that is selling the album short. I also have to bring up Casey's vocals, which are definitely the "love or hate it" sort. Some find them to be too whiny, which they can be at some times for sure, especially on previous albums, but I think that's toned down here. If that kind of thing really really bothers you though, well, you probably already know what you think of his voice so I'll say no more. However the "emo" quotient that is sometimes tagged onto The Dear Hunter is absent for the most part here from what I can see, so even if you haven't liked their music previously you might want to at least sample something from here and see if your feelings have changed at all. I used to kind of consider The Dear Hunter as my Coheed and Cambria lite, but this album has damn well changed my mind.
So all in all I highly recommend this album to anyone that likes bands that play with concepts, as well as get their fingers in multiple genre pies. If the concept interests you, definitely give this album a try. And if you're apprehensive about it, maybe try listening to the shorter version and if you enjoy it AT ALL, definitely dive into the complete collection. This is a hell of an ambitious record and if you like ambition, you should love this.


Favorites: Never Forgive Never Forget (Black), A Sea of Solid Earth (Orange), The Dead Don't Starve (Yellow), Progress (Indigo), Lillian (Violet)


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