It really wasn’t a surprise when The Dear Hunter announced an album for each color in the color spectrum, really, it wasn’t. After all, ambitious mutli-album concepts aren’t exactly foreign to them. For years the band has been working on a seven-part concept detailing the story of a prostitute and her illegitimate son. War, love, and lust all play large roles in the overarching tale, making for a grand suite that to this day is still less than half complete. Apparently, the creation of said album series was as exhausting as it sounds, for The Color Spectrum sees the band step out of their comfort zone, experimenting with new sounds, new ideas, and more importantly, a fresher sense of creativity.
The Color Spectrum feels like a band rejuvenated, breathing easier because they are now without the oppressive rigors of the “Acts” project. The Color Spectrum is much more stripped down, lacking the boisterous and bold strings and brass of Act II, as well as the bizarre swing segments of Act III. Overall, it sort of lacks the personality and character of said albums, but it feels so much more cohesive and straightforward. Whereas Act II was almost too bloated to fit on a single disc, The Color Spectrum features eleven average length songs that nowhere near overstay their welcome.
Keep in mind, however, that this is merely the compilation disc—eleven songs chosen from the pool of nearly forty that have been created for the project. Each of the nine EPs has four respective songs, and this compilation disc sees one from each song, as well as two from both the white and green EPs. It’s a rather nice collection of songs, full of everything one would expect from The Dear Hunter, as well as a few surprises. However, the album was meant to be a mere taste of the overall project, and it’s very much apparent. The songs have no continuity, and because there is only one or two songs from each EP, there really isn’t a sense of “colors” felt. Extreme fans will need to throw down for the whole set, but this compilation disc serves as a nice collection of songs from a band that, quite honestly, has never disappointed.
Aside from a few duds, The Color Spectrum is simply full f excellent songs, all filled with that Dear Hunter charm. “She’s Always Singing” throws in a catchy ukulele, while twinkly instruments accompany it and Casey’s signature croon. It’s a fun, catchy track that displays the more stripped down nature of the project. Opposite to this, “Things That Hide Away,” sees a much more intimate band. Featuring only an acoustic guitar and Casey’s voice, the song is simple yet wholly lovely. Yet one of the most interesting moments arises from “Deny It All.” Deny it all is a quicker paced song, much heavier and much more rock oriented than the rest. Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra fame makes a guest appearance, whose voice makes a wonderful counter to Casey’s. It’s one of the stronger pieces on the entire album, and represents the fantastic variation within the album.
The Color Spectrum isn’t the most unabashedly wonderful thing The Dear Hunter has ever done, and really, I’m not so sure if that was ever their goal. It feels so free, so exhilarating, that one can’t help but think that this was simply all for the love of the music. This being only the compilation disc, it’s difficult to ascertain what the rest of the project will sound like. However, if it is anything like this album, then we have twenty-five more excellent songs headed our way.
1. Filth and Squalor
2. Deny It All
3. But There's Wolves?
4. She's Always Singing
5. Things That Hide Away
6. The Canopy
8. What Time Taught Us
11. Fall And Flee