Album Review: Migrant by The Dear Hunter
By Clarisse Hansard
Cave & Canary Goods
Release Date: April 2, 2013
There has never been any denial that Dear Hunter lead vocalist and songwriter Casey Crescenzo is a masterful musician. For years now, The Dear Hunter has released quality albums that transcend the music world and become true works of art instead. It’s hard to imagine how they could possibly follow a release like The Color Spectrum: a collection of EPs that each reflect a different color in the rainbow. Admittedly, the same question was posed about how they could possibly top a masterpiece so grandiose as their three-part album series Acts. It’s become a pattern, evidently, to wonder “how could they possibly out do this last album?” Yet again, The Dear Hunter has proven with their latest release, Migrant, that there is absolutely no ceiling to the quality of their work.
Migrant is by no means the same as any previous LP. Previously marked by boisterous orchestral sounds and layered instrumentation, The Dear Hunter has take a different direction with this latest LP. Migrant is characterized by a softness that comes with having mastered an art form. There are few tracks reminiscent of the various ways in which Acts unceasingly challenged its own intensity. In fact, Migrant displays a new delicateness that suggests a significant progression in what were previously huge trademarks of The Dear Hunter’s sound.
Don’t get me wrong, Migrant is not simple by any standard. Actually, when the album opens with “Bring You Down” there is a precisely opposite interpretation: immediately you’re aware of all the various players that were necessary in order to make a release like this possible. The beauty of this record, and what this band never lets their listener forget, is that music is only possible if there is an emphasis and awareness of even the smallest instrumental details in a song. From the soft strumming in the background of “Shame” to the delicacy of chimes in “This Vicious Place,” there is an ever-present realization that each track would not be the same were it not for the collective effort of every detail.
Be aware that Migrant is very much the kind of album you would expect The Dear Hunter to release. It’s intricate in all the right places and has immense standout tracks such as “The Kiss of Life” and “Sweet Naiveté” that are bound to be replayed countless times. These two tracks in particular are full of the signature orchestration that listeners have come to love this band for. They are all-encompassing and strong. Simultaneously, tracks like “Sweet Naiveté” and the closing piece, “Don’t Look Back” have jazz influences that suggest a progression in The Dear Hunter’s musical character. These songs, particularly in the latter half of the album, are striking and make bold statements about the kind of musicians Casey and his bandmates are. “Don’t Look Back” eases the listener out of the album with Casey’s cooing and beautifully gentle instrumentation. There is nothing left to be desired of the album when it ends because it has already given you everything.
There is a freshness to Migrant that serves to refine the edges of The Dear Hunter’s already tremendous sound. As shown by this album, there’s no longer a need to make songs that fill your senses to the brim like with Acts and the Red EP off of The Color Spectrum. These sensory details come far more naturally with Migrant. The overall flow and direction this album takes are a product of The Dear Hunter having been seasoned in the art of musical creation. Sit back and take Migrant as an art piece. Allow this record to consume you, your senses, and your surroundings for its duration. Like all good art, it will move you to no end.