The Dear Hunter
The Color Spectrum (Complete Collection)


5.0
classic

Review

by Adam Knott EMERITUS
June 30th, 2011 | 211 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Summaries are a cop-out.

For the (shamefully) uninitiated, Desert Island Discs is a long-running BBC Radio 4 show in which well-known (and normally intelligent) guests are invited to choose, first and foremost, the eight pieces of music they would want with them were they stranded on a remote island indefinitely. Certain musical ventures lend themselves to this exercise effortlessly; consider that one of the rules of the island is that each castaway receives the complete works of Shakespeare, for example, and it's clear to see that certain works of art are considered part of the creative canon, absolute cornerstones of the medium or genre.

We have a tendency, though, to only apply this sort of frame to works that have gathered dust over an arbitrary period of time. Every once in a while, though, a record emerges which it is difficult to deny possesses at least a morsel of the totalising sensation and atmosphere held by those classic works, like Shakespeare's collection, even if in this moment they lack the same profound influence. Were The Dear Hunter's The Color Spectrum - in its glorious entirety - the first album which you heard in your lifetime, it is hard to imagine that you would leave it on the shelf in the knowledge that you would wake the following morning marooned in the Pacific with no hope of escape.

Even as concept records go, The Color Spectrum raises an awful lot of interesting questions about the way we listen to music and what we expect from it. There are thirty-six songs here in total, giving the entire collection a relentless 144-minute runtime, divided into 9 EPs representing different colours which are portrayed sonically as opposed to lyrically. But this is where the first of a few contentions arises: find a song here that isn't, in isolation, excellent, and you will find a beautifully huge number of people that disagree. Dipping in and out of The Color Spectrum is the easiest thing in the world to do without risk of being disappointed. Every listener's bound to have their favourites, but it seems, remarkably, impossible to imagine any one EP being universally considered the worst.

But if The Color Spectrum seems at times built for the Shuffle button, we should ask ourselves why, and challenge ourselves to break that taboo. 144 minutes is an awful lot of music to find time for, of course - but does that really forgive our temptation to flit around and ignore the enormity of the record as intended by its writers and producers? The issue here isn't one of The Dear Hunter failing to keep anyone's attention - even the slowest of the EPs (probably Blue) is enthralling in and out of context. The question is simply whether an artistic creation can be too overbearing. Ambition is rarely excessive unless it goes unfulfilled, so here, it's purely a debate about length, not about repetition or any kind of lull. There are thirty-six diverse, honest and passionate songs here, and not a single one of them is poor, predictable or anonymous.

What that means is that fans of 'glitchy' rock will be enamoured by Black and listeners of Hellogoodbye-style pop won't be able to drag themselves away from Yellow. Red? Angry. Blue? Reverb and introspection. Violet? Theatrical indie-pop. But The Color Spectrum is just that - a scale, a panorama, a continuum. Because Red's anger drifts into Orange's less frustrated passion, which in turn morphs into Yellow's unbridled joy - try and find me someone who didn't smirk the first time Casey sang you're never gonna need him - that's why you're in my room tonight.

So the album doesn't jolt and jar like one might expect of something so colossal; instead, it grows and shrinks from schizophrenia through anthems to relaxation and peace. But one strange thing to note about the conceptual dynamic of The Color Spectrum is that a song's context tends to dictate which of its features are accentuated. The collection's closer, for example, 'Lost But Not All Gone', could just as easily fit as only a slight anomaly on Red, but in its position on White it sounds optimistic, almost serene; were it instead surrounded by more aggressive tracks like Deny It All there is a good chance it would sound considerably more wound-up.

But that's almost the beauty and brilliance of The Color Spectrum in a nutshell; it's everything that you need it to be. Lazy critics say that all the time, but they rarely mean everything in the same way as this record does. Whether you skip to how you want to feel, inhale the entire work from start to finish, or re-arrange the songs contained on these 9 EPs into something with a different effect or runtime, you can come back and do the very same thing the next day, and still not have found your way around. Its depth is more than its length, more than its explicit ambition; losing yourself completely in an album has never been this easy.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Knott-
Emeritus
June 30th 2011


10195 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Such a difficult album to review but here's to trying.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
June 30th 2011


31169 Comments


What a cop out of a summary

Digging: LV and Joshua Idehen - Islands

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
June 30th 2011


31169 Comments


Every once in a while, though, a record emerges which it is difficult to deny possesses a morsel of the totalising sensation and atmosphere held by those classic works


Think you're missing something here

difficult to deny, one that possesses maybe? And lose the "it"

Knott-
Emeritus
June 30th 2011


10195 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Nah I think grammatically that's right. "which it is difficult to deny possesses".

The summary isn't a cop-out it's a metaphor for the album!

Knott-
Emeritus
June 30th 2011


10195 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It reads weird though I'll grant you that hmm

RagingStorm
June 30th 2011


509 Comments


fantastic review, i still haven't listened to this

qwe3
June 30th 2011


21362 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off


Every once in a while, though, a record emerges which it is difficult to deny possesses a morsel of the totalising sensation and atmosphere held by those classic works


uh

KeithStone582
June 30th 2011


1480 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

144 minutes is a lot of material.

MO
June 30th 2011


18680 Comments


it's basically the equivalent of watching a movie, I kinda wanna hear this

MrSenior
June 30th 2011


212 Comments


Great review, Knott. My exact thoughts. The more I listened to the entire collection, the more I loved it in its entirety.

Spare
June 30th 2011


5306 Comments


seriously this shit is wreckin' the curve. home of the insta5 amirite gonna listen to this shit like twice

Digging: Best Witches - Wishes

botb
June 30th 2011


9677 Comments


nah this is 5 worthy.

WeepingBanana
June 30th 2011


10146 Comments


some EP's are better than others. Blue is probably my fav (4.5) where as Orange not so much (3)

psykonaut
June 30th 2011


3913 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

lol 5
i mean i really love the dear hunter
lolololol 5

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
June 30th 2011


7338 Comments


I feel like I should check this out, even though I've heard the Black EP and didn't think much of it.

Knott-
Emeritus
June 30th 2011


10195 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

*head explodes* sam

Knott-
Emeritus
June 30th 2011


10195 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

head reconstucted

ty

qwe3
June 30th 2011


21362 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

omg its 2 and a half hours long and it isn't terrible 5/5

Knott-
Emeritus
June 30th 2011


10195 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

yep that's what i said yep that's right

do people even fucking read things these days or just assume the review says the stupidest possible thing in favour of its rating

Knott-
Emeritus
June 30th 2011


10195 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

i mean i could totes understand if the latter was the case but still



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