The Dear Hunter - The Color Spectrum [CD version] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Dear Hunter

The Color Spectrum [CD version] (2011)

Triple Crown

The Dear Hunter is nothing if not ambitious. Although they're currently in the middle of a six-album cycle about the death of a young boy, they've taken a respite from the massive story to release nine EPs collectively called The Color Spectrum, each of which aims to sonically paint the color that it represents.

The CD version of the The Color Spectrum is basically a "greatest hits" of the massive nine-disc vinyl box set, taking at least one track from each release.

Just as their release schedule is motivated, so is the music itself. Although the band has floated around the tag of post-punk, really, because the group flirts with so many styles without embracing any one fully, the tag doesn't seem to be just. Rather, the group makes the interesting choice of mixing together well-worn genres, while leaving in the elements of those genres that makes them unique, and crafts an album that is daring through its novel use of the ordinary.

Opening track "Filth and Squalor" (from Black) somewhat resembles modern Flaming Lips in that it takes indie dream pop, slides some dustup effects under the bottom, and then halfway through, snaps into a sonic freakout. But, on "She's Always Singing" (Yellow), the group takes the daring choice to cut a tune that, because of its extended vowels and slide guitar, sounds almost like a modern country tune until it fades into a Beach Boys-esque drift-away.

As frontman Casey Crescenzo croons throughout the album, his voice seems to unite the whole. Adopting a sort of Coldplay-ish range, Crescenzo makes use of the range of his voice. Throughout the album he ranges from a whisper to a modern pop/rock extended chorus that is so popular on modern radio, placing melody in the forefront.

Genre experimentation seems to be the name of the game and for the most part, it works. Since this is sort of a pick of choice cuts, the album doesn't necessarily flow perfectly. But, the wild mix of tunes and sounds from across the map make this shambling composition flow sensibly.

By this point, it seems a lot of acts either bandy about genre tags to the point so that they don't mean anything at all, or adhere so closely to genre clichés that the music is as boring as it is tedious. By picking and choosing the hallmarks of metal, country, cabaret, pop, and dozens of the genres, almost as if they were unaware the concept of genre existed, the Dear Hunter have created an album that, while at times challenging, invites multiple listens, each of which are likely to uncover new elements hidden in the sonic mass.