The Dear Hunter | The Color Spectrum (Triple Crown)

cd dear hunterWhat comes next is a mystery, so be good, be weird, have fun, and hope for the best, just like Casey Crescenzo.

 

Casey Crescenzo, mastermind behind The Dear Hunter, announced in the summer of 2010 that he would be taking a break from the story he’s been telling through his music since the band’s conception. His story focuses on the birth, life, and ultimate death of a boy known as “The Dear Hunter.” The plan is to make six albums, and so far he has finished Acts I through III. These three albums are grandiose and almost feel like the score to an epic film. It would be hard to imagine an endeavor as large as this to be topped, but leave it to Crescenzo to push the envelope. He has now created nine EPs with four tracks on each dedicated to a color on the spectrum, specifically: black, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, and white. To make the music more accessible, he selected songs from each EP, respectively, and put out an 11-song LP.

Each color has its own flavor and feel. Crescenzo accomplished this by recording the project in four separate studios across the country, working with different people on each EP, including members of Manchester Orchestra, The Naïve Thieves, and the now-defunct Hot Rod Circuit. Colors are a thing of sight, so the album is clearly subjective, but after hearing these colors through Crescenzo, it almost feels universal. Certainly the feelings he emits through the spectrum are universal: sadness, fear, happiness, joy, and love.

The opening song, “Filth and Squalor,” a selection from the Black EP, has dark lyrics and achieves a “post” sound with the electronic elements. Throughout the song he sings, “Tear it down and start again”; it doesn’t get much more post than that. Andy Hull from Manchester Orchestra produced and sings on all four songs on the Red EP. “Deny it All” is represented here; an alternative song oozing with signature Manchester Orchestra breakdowns turning into fast-paced instrumentation behind long wails. Hull would have been out of place on any other color or track; Crescenzo knew that, and put him exactly where he belonged.

Next is “But There’s Wolves” representing the Orange EP, on which the band sounds like a cross between Incubus and Jimi Hendrix. Halfway through the song, the guitar and drum play back and forth until it turns into an all-out jam session of grittiness that goes back into a basic riff and drumbeat, to ease the listener out of the song and into the pretty keyboard-spackled “She’s Always Singing,” off the Yellow EP. Since each color has a different ambiance, there’s something for every listener out there. Yellow is like nothing The Dear Hunter has ever done before. Acts I through III mostly have a dark orchestrated sound, while Yellow has nothing but catchy and sunny tunes. Keyboards, tambourines, and xylophones are all here, and it reinforces that Crescenzo can write a happy love song.

The pace slows down on the reflective and introspective Green EP. On “Things That Hide Away,” Crescenzo raises hard questions and contemplates life while picking his acoustic guitar. The recognizable country twang of a slide guitar floats around on the songs, giving them a humble and honest approach. “Canopy,” a second “green” song on the LP, finds Crescenzo realizing that he sometimes gets ahead of himself. The chorus, “Slow down, take time, and see the forest for the leaves/ I know that I should practice what I preach,” shows his effort to take a breath and try to understand his surroundings, the people in his life, and himself. The “green” songs feel like you’re laying in an open grassy field, looking at the clouds in deep thought. “Trapdoor” from the Blue EP is a slow but steady plea for the girl in his life not to leave. When he sings the word “love” at the end, it’s easy to feel his desperation. The “blue” songs aren’t a catchy bunch, but they have an intimate appeal. Instruments are always slowly working their way quietly in and out of the songs like ocean waves crashing into the beach and then softly rolling away.

The Indigo EP is full of synthesizers and makes good use of digital effects. “What Time Has Taught Us” is like getting sucked into a gaming system and then being launched into space. The bells are a nice addition to a mainly digitalized song. The Violet EP sounds the most like The Dear Hunter’s previous work, especially Act III, with its orchestral sound and pianos that sound like they’re from a decadent circus in Paris. The “violet” selection is “Lillian,” a thematic rollercoaster of a song encompassed by strings that lets you off at the end with a quick piano exit.

The LP ends with “Home” and “Fall and Flee” from the White EP. These songs both deal with death, but Crescenzo’s optimistic look at death is a white death, a heavenly death. In the most uplifting songs of the project we are told not to give up, to enjoy and lead a good life, and then we “can come back home.” Crescenzo gets quirky in the closer when he sings, “I’ll take comfort in knowing/ this melody has never been sung with these words” in an offbeat fashion. What comes next is a mystery, so be good, be weird, have fun, and hope for the best, just like Casey Crescenzo. It’s good to see that he didn’t feel forced to make music to continue the storyline of the previous records. Clearly, inspiration struck and thankfully, he did not hold back. The entire 36-song collection is highly recommended, but this 11-song LP is a powerful taste that flows together smoothly, even with the myriad of styles. A- | Alex Schreiber

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply