The Dear Hunter – The Color Spectrum

While fans of The Dear Hunter have been waiting in anticipation for the prospective ‘Act IV’, Casey Crescenzo and the band sent something a little different our way, although equally as exciting; not one, but nine EPs released simultaneously. This project is called ‘The Color Spectrum’, and each of the EPs is a four song set that is meant to reflect whatever given mood each color evokes. It is granted that nine releases is a pretty difficult chunk to digest all at once, and especially considering that the EPs are currently only available on vinyl, it is a bit of an investment for someone that might only want for of a single album’s experience. Luckily, The Dear Hunter did opt to release an album version of ‘The Color Spectrum’; a selection of songs from each of the EPs that is meant to give a taste of what the project is all about. As anyone who has heard The Dear Hunter before might imagine, all of these tracks are generally very well written and arranged, sometimes even being downright beautiful. Pairing that with great musicianship and a voice like none else I have heard in the self-exclaimed ‘indie rock’ scene, ‘The Color Spectrum’ is a winner, even in its abridged form. Even still though, there are things that The Dear Hunter could have done to make this an even better release.

The songs here are- for the most part- quite incredible, but the album naturally does not feel like a cohesive work here, instead being a collection of songs. It would have been very nice to have heard a true Dear Hunter album this year, but as it stands, ‘The Color Spectrum’ only re-affirms my belief that The Dear Hunter are truly one of the best bands out there today, and one of my favourites. Each EP gets represented by a song on the album, except for the ‘Green’ and ‘White’ EPs, which both get two tracks. Casey does not sing overtly about the various colors on these songs, but instead, the colors are conveyed through the moods. ‘Filth & Squalor’ for example, is quite an abrasive, dark and electronic track, that really conveys the ‘Black’ vibe. On the other hand, ‘She’s Always Singing’ is very cheery, catchy and romantic, really giving the ‘Yellow’ aura throughout. What all of the songs share however is a highly melodic approach to writing, and great presentation. The production is incredibly effective for the music, and Casey Crescenzo may very well be my favourite singer; he is a higher register, highly theatrical yet warm and emotional voice that never fails, and brings the strong melodies to life.

While I am assuming this release entails what the band considers to be the ‘best’ of the EPs, I am not happy with everything that ‘The Color Spectrum’ delivers. There is only one track here that I really do not like, but it does serve to rob The Dear Hunter of their consistent brilliance here. That song is ‘Orange’s contribution, ‘But There’s Wolves?’, a straightforward, somewhat garage-oriented modern rock track that sounds like The Dear Hunter are throwing their class and sensibility out the window in favour of cheesy melodies, boring riffs, and unimaginative structure. Especially considering that there is much better that the ‘Orange’ EP has to offer, it is a wonder why this track was included on the album. In fact, one of this album’s biggest weaknesses is the selection of the songs. While the music here is generally excellent, it would have been nice to have even more songs to dive into. The first song I ever heard from ‘The Color Spectrum’ collection was ‘This Body’ (from ‘Black’), and that is a perfect example of a song that could have done very well here. Perhaps there were all of these great songs left off the CD because they potentially didn’t fit a sense of flow that The Dear Hunter wanted, but sadly, there is little flow to speak of on the album. Each song is a fairly self-contained entity. There is a feeling of the album moving from darkness to light as the songs progress, but it really does not connect the tracks. Considering the strength of the songs and variety of material that the band had to choose from here, I am sure that a better sense of flow could have been established, had the layout and selection of the album been changed.

While it is not really a legitimate studio album from The Dear Hunter, it hasn’t stopped me from putting it on many times, and enjoying it quite a bit. There is not a challenging depth to these tracks that will keep unfolding with each listen, but the songwriting and arrangements here are- with one fetid exception- beautiful and very intelligent, so the music does not tire. ‘The Color Spectrum’ is certainly a project that is worth experiencing in full however; for all intents and purposes, this is merely a sampler of the real thing. But for anyone who is looking for a more album-formatted experience from the band, this version does do fairly nicely.

Tracklist:

1. Filth and Squalor (Black) (4:01)
2. Deny it All (Red) (3:34)
3. But There’s Wolves? (Orange) (4:04)
4. She’s Always Singing (Yellow) (2:40)
5. Things That Hide Away (Green) (3:24)
6. The Canopy (Green) (3:52)
7. Trapdoor (Blue) (3:54)
8. What Time Taught Us (Indigo) (4:07)
9. Lillian (Violet) (4:07)
10. Home (White) (3:55)
11. Fall and Flee (White) (4:07)

Line-up:

* Casey Crescenzo – Vocals, Piano, Guitar
* Nick Crescenzo – Drums, Percussion, Vocals
* Maxwell Tousseau – Guitar, Vocals
* Erick Serna – Guitar, Vocals
* Nate Patterson – Bass, Vocals

Links:

http://www.thedearhunter.com/

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: