Review Summary: As a whole, this box-set continues to fascinate and grab me with each listen, and I continue to discover things, small elements in songs that I hadn't heard before, that gives me new appreciation for it all. The Dear Hunter have made one of the most ambit2 of 2 thought this review was well written
Ambition. A word that is very important in the music-scene, you gotta aim high to get high, or something along those lines, it's also about taking risks.
Many bands seem to settle with normal-length albums, releasing an album with 8-10 songs, promoting it a bit and then tour. The Dear Hunter however, are a band that have always been interested in making something new and unique, and that is one of the many things that The Color Spectrum is all about.
9 EP's, each covering a color, each with unique sound depending on the color. Many of you probably know this already, because this "album" has been one of the most highlighted in the last month. I'll be honest, when I first read about The Color Spectrum and the idea behind it (around 1 ½ year ago probably), I never thought that this project would see daylight. The whole project and the idea behind it was just a very huge thing, and to make something special from it... that would be even harder. I've always loved concepts like this one, a good example would be "The Alchemy Index" by Thrice, they released four EP's focusing on the basic elements (Fire, Water, Air & Earth), where all the songs on each EP sounded like the element, both music-wise and lyric-wise. This however seemed like a much larger challenge, 9 EP's and 9 Colors, how do you make each EP unique?
The Dear Hunter have always been a band of many talents, they have been walking a line between many genre's, with the base somewhere between Progressive and Alternative Rock. They have always been about exploring new stuff, something that really shows on this album. For a band that has done nothing close to Electronica before, I was blown away by how amazing "Black" and "Indigo" were. "Black" has a very important role seeing as it's the first EP, and the first impression you get of the box-set overall. It has a lot of electronics going on, but it blends those elements with a lot of guitars, creating a very dark and somewhat lush sound, the color "Black" couldn't be more fitting. "Indigo" on the other hand has less guitars and more electronics, I would say that it's The Dear Hunter's version of "Kid A" by Radiohead, people who are familiar with that album might get my comparison. "Indigo" also has the song "Therma", the only instrumental-song on the whole box-set, and one of the few through their entire discography, unless you count the 'between-songs-songs'. "Red" and "Orange" also share similarities with each other, unlike "Black" and "Indigo" that has roots in Electronic-music, "Red" and "Orange" are both very influenced by rock-music.
"Red" has a more modern touch to it, it's rather straight forward catchy rock, featuring the band Manchester Orchestra. "Orange" on the other hand has a more 70's-sound to it, featuring organ and some harmony-singing that just feels very typical for 70's music. "Orange" also has a lot of solo's in the songs, the solo in "Echo" is a great example, it actually has a very dark feel to it, and it reminded me of the band Opeth, maybe because they also have a lot of 70's influences. Anyhow, despite these two EP's sharing the same ground, very few similarities can be found near the surface, and that is what makes them both so unique from each other. "Green", "Yellow" and "Blue" all have very strong Summer-feels to them, they sound more happy. more uplifting and very beautiful. Very much like in the earlier case, they all start off on the same ground, but after taking different directions, the results are very different. "Green" has a lot of Folk-rock things going on, it's the type of album you could just relax to during the summer, if you're out walking in the forest or something like that. "Yellow" is quite possibly one of the most 'stripped down' EP's in this release, it reminds me a lot of The Beatles in many ways, but with a strong Dear Hunter-touch. All songs on this EP are really catchy and uplifting, and this EP would work perfectly if you're just out on the grass, enjoying the sun. "Blue" is very much unique, and has a strong oceanic/water-theme to it. It has a lot of crushingly beautiful moments, one of my favorite examples would be "The Collapse of the Great Tide Cliffs", and the very post-rock influenced outro it has. Surprisingly, Post-rock is another genre that The Dear Hunter haven't really touched yet, but in this case it works very well. It's also a perfect summer-album, when I listen to it I imagine myself on a boat, in the middle of the sea somewhere, just enjoying the silence.
"Violet" was probably the one I looked forward to the least initially, not because I don't like The Dear Hunter doing their 'thing', I love it. My biggest interest for this album was to see how the band would pull off new genres and new sounds, and let's face it, "Violet" is after all the one closest to their previous albums sound-wise. With that said, it is still a pretty darn good EP, not one of my absolute favorites, but not in the bottom either, because it has 4 strong quality tracks. If this is an early taste of how Act IV might sound, then count me excited. "White" is like "Yellow" on the 'stripped down'-part, pretty minimalistic on the instrumental-front, but with a lot of layering in the vocals. This is one of my favorites out of the 9 EPs, because all songs are top notch, and the melodies are just so darn catchy.
As a whole, this box-set continues to fascinate and grab me with each listen, and I continue to discover things, small elements in songs that I hadn't heard before, that gives me new appreciation for it all. The Dear Hunter have made one of the most ambitious releases I have come across, and even though everyone might not love all of the songs on this box like I do, I can almost guarantee that everyone could take something out of it. A song here, or a song there, this box really has something for everyone, and that is the strongest attribute The Color Spectrum has. Variety - with fantastic songs.
All 9 EP's clock in at roughly 2 ½ hours, which is a fairly long playtime. However, this has not been a problem for me, because every time I've listened to it, time just seem to fly by.
This album has already reached some sort of cult-status on a lot of websites, and it's easy for me to understand why. This album is already a 5/5 for me, and it has the potential to become one of those classics that people will talk about 20-30 years from now. If only The Dear Hunter could get some well deserved attention from a bigger crowd, so that they could afford touring more and outside of the US. I'd love to see them live some day.
Until then, make sure you check out this album, it's already one of those BIG releases in 2011, and at the end of the year, I'm sure we'll see a lot of people having this in their top10-lists.
Also, this was my first review here, so feedback and such would be cool.