Finally, album number three of the mighty release day that occurred last Friday. I feel I’ve been waiting for this album the longest of the three, considering it’s the next part of a series of albums left off back in 2009. For six long years I’ve been waiting for the next installment by The Dear Hunter. Being one of the first bands mentioned on this site, they are back at it with their wonderful album “Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise.”
Another softer album mentioned this week, “Rebirth in Reprise” continues the concept left off in their previous album, but with a sound that has changed drastically. More than ever Casey Crescenzo and company utilize orchestral instruments, with the basic rock instruments taking a backseat. This doesn’t mean the album is lacking in rock-influenced arrangements, as present in the songs “The Old Haunt,” “Waves,” and “A Night On The Town.” But if I were to remember anything from this album, it’s the plethora of flutes, trumpets, trombones, and violins that create a much more unique and interesting listening experience. With interludes, interludes, and more interludes, these instruments shine in between tracks, setting the scene for the next song. Reminiscent of albums like “Censored Colors” by Portugal. The Man and “Days of Future Passed” by The Moody Blues, Crescenzo is able to leave an amazing impression on the listener, using progressive and indie rock influences together with classical inspirations. Considering the timeframe of the concept around the story, one truly feels they are back in the 19th century.
If the orchestral instruments paint a scene of the past, then the inclusion of modern instruments like the keyboards and electric guitar add a new layer to the storytelling. “At The End of the Earth” is a great example of how these different ages mix together perfectly, using a classic piano sound and a cappella singing alongside sound manipulation and guitar effects. The single “A Night On The Town” also utilizes this technique, consistently shifting between the new and the old. When a harder chorus finishes, the song transitions to a classical bridge section, only to return to a harder passage. I love how this album incorporates all these instruments together, which regularly complement each other in ways I could never imagine.
Two of my favorite tracks happen to be two of the harder songs on the album: “Is There Anybody Here?” and “King of Swords (Reversed).” I believe “Is There Anybody Here?” captures Crescenzo’s best vocal performance on the album, a passionate and steady mid-register voice. His voice reminds me of the thoughts running through someone’s head when they are lost, a reflective performance that reminds me of a character on Broadway. I can feel the emotion the main character displays throughout this song. The guitar solo towards the end of the song is also very interesting, and is one of the only solos I can easily recall off this album. With all the classical influences in this album, “King of Swords (Reversed)” turns the album on its head. With a poppy twist, I really enjoyed how out of place this song was, instilling some life into a slower section of the album. Using those classical instruments in unintended situations, I couldn’t help but dance around to this song. I hope they play this song live at their concerts, because it will definitely get their audience’s attention.
For an album lasting nearly 75 minutes, I am thoroughly impressed with the talent, devotion, and creativity that went into “Rebirth in Reprise.” Unfortunately, it also serves as a negative at the same time. Being much slower compared to previous albums, there were times when I checked what track I was on to see how far I was into the album. Despite how beautiful the arrangements were, I couldn’t help but anticipate a harder track to shake things up, which occurs only a few times. I can’t help but wonder how the band will tour for this album, considering the majority of the album is downbeat and slower. It’s a great album to play at work, even though you might not be able to hear much of the album if the volume is down too low. Finally, the album closes off seemingly sudden, almost underwhelmingly. I understand that the closing of each acts are merely closings of scenes in the overall story, but I felt like I was left hanging when the album ended. I would’ve changed the ending slightly to let the listener know that the album is, in fact, over.
Overall, “Rebirth and Reprise” is a great album. Those not knowledgeable of The Dear Hunter or any of the “Act” albums will have the same feeling as those walking into a movie thirty minutes late, but should still marvel at the creativity and sophistication of this album. I seriously feel like I should be listening to this album in an art museum or at a gala. Fans of their prior work will like this album, or listeners of progressive/indie rock bands like Dream The Electric Sleep, Thrice, and The Mars Volta should definitely give this album a listen. Please support the Dear Hunter by checking out their website, or by following them on Facebook and Twitter. They are preparing for a North American tour, so please check them out if they arrive in a city near you. They are coming to San Diego in October, so I’m anticipating their arrival.