Sunday, April 21, 2013

Album Review: The Dear Hunter - Migrant

Album Rating: B
For Casey Crescenzo and The Dear Hunter, the most ambitious record they've written to date is the one that on paper seems relatively tame. However, after years and years of writing record after record with a deep overlying concept, it makes sense that Migrant may be the hardest to write to date. There are no cinematics masking the music, no storyline running through the lyrics, and no general mood or theme guiding the tracks. For the first time as The Dear Hunter, Crescenzo simply wrote an album.

The Dear Hunter has always been known for their gorgeous arrangements, and even without the cinematic feel, the tracks still feel beautifully orchestrated and layered. Perhaps the strongest song on the record, first single "Whisper" opens with strings and drums that drive the whole song forward, and while the strings drop out for the majority of the verse, they are replaced with layers on top of layers of guitar, keys, and other subtle electronic noises. Every part is sewn together perfectly and as the song explodes at the chorus, all the parts become an extravagant soundscape. Producer Mike Watts excellently takes all these layers and makes them sound their very best, an extremely difficult job that seems to be done to the highest of quality.

Crescenzo's vocals are also top notch on the record, as his vocal technique improves dramatically in many different aspects. "Shame" features him showing off his fantastic range and how it has improved on all points on the spectrum, while "An Escape" shows off the new found power that his voice has found. It is perfect placement for these two tracks to be put back to back, as the overall vocal improvement of the album is completely summarized between these two tracks.

However, many of the songs aren't as heavy hitting and don't reach the heights that they could have been. "Bring You Down" suffers from a poor ending to the chorus while Crescenzo's sister Azia lowers the intensity of potential rocker "Girl." Closer "Don't Look Back" would have done far better with a bigger climax, surging into a huge full band swell rather than dying down before reaching that epic point. Instead, it's a weak end to an album that had the potential to be far better than it ended up being.

Crescenzo does absolutely nothing wrong in the creation of Migrant. There really are no poor overall tracks, even if they are relatively inconsistent within his portfolio of work. However, we know by now the heights that he can reach, and many of these tracks just fail to live up to their overall potential. Migrant may be another gorgeous entry into The Dear Hunter's catalog, but the tracks just lack the punch that we're used to feeling from the band at this point. The ability to create a classic caliber album in this direction is definitely there, but Migrant falls quite a bit short of hitting the mark.


1. Bring You Down
2. Whisper
3. Shame
4. An Escape
5. Shouting at the Rain
6. The Kiss of LIfe
7. Girl
8. Cycles
9. Sweet Naiveté
10. Let Go
11. This Vicious Place
12. Don't Look Back

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