Review Summary: put centre stage: regret, remorse, regard
Results are in: Judge Judy and executioner both agree, Violet
sounds the most like The Dear Hunter. Out of all the EPs, sir Casey Crescenzo are smack dab in the middle of their comfort zone on Violet
; guns, horses and horns ablaze. At least, that’s what I’ve been told. But if The Color Spectrum
has taught us but one damn thing, it’s that if you’ve passed the endurance test and listened to this entire thing chronologically, you know The Dear Hunter don’t have a box to think outside of. The entire world of music is their comfort zone until proven otherwise. Violet
is more accurately the sound of Crescenzo and co. ironing out the theatrics they were toying with on Act III
... only, of course, they’ve amplified it. They brought in the big guns - you’re dealing with some serious trombones, spy-movie motifs and harpsichords here. And if you thought ‘The Tank’ was pretty dramatic and indulgent for a prog-pop song, wait until you here the string arrangement on ‘Lillian’. Violet
may find The Dear Hunter revisiting familiar territory but they’ve never done it quite like this. That cozy little comfort zone of theirs just keeps expanding.
Just like the colourblind Dear Hunter of the yesteryear, new-improved-polychromatic Crescenzo embraces subtlety like a porcupine embraces a balloon. But somehow, karma’s on the winning team this time - Violet
is impeccably orchestrated and composed, containing some of The Dear Hunter’s absolute best pop compositions ever. At its least accessible is opener ‘Mr. Malum’, a confident, thespian romp of dramatic string arrangements, gang vocals and one delightfully catchy chorus lamenting yet another one of Crescenzo’s seedy caricatures. And it’s only fitting Crescenzo is singing about ill-intentioned, fictitious douchebags again when the the music is damn show-biz. I mean, really
, the guy’s more intimate lyricism would be so uncomfortably juxtaposed with all the clarinets and fairydust of Violet
that it might’ve possibly ruined the entire atmosphere. Luckily, the clarinets and whatnot get special treatment: take, for example the Bond swagger of ‘Look Away’; ripe with stuttered consonants, alliterating narrative and Crescenzo’s most cocky, asserted vocal performance yet. It’s one of the collection’s cheekiest and finest cuts.
And even then, ‘Look Away’, in all its grandeur, is no ‘Lillian’. Mark my words, ‘Lillian’ just might be the best song The Dear Hunter have ever written. Underscored by impeccably composed plucked strings and a slow, rhythmic 23/4 build-up to a huge chorus (you heard me right), ‘Lillian’ is the most comfortable yet intelligent arrangement the band has pulled off. Complimented by a suitably and truly epic chorus, Crecenzo warns us “don’t get stuck in something you hate
” over the pitch-perfect, half-time drums and absolutely, absolutely
perfect string arrangement. Did I mention those strings? They couldn’t be mentioned enough. For all the successes The Dear Hunter managed on this project, ‘Lillian’ is the crown jewel of the collection on its own and a testament to how the band’s drama-queen syndrome is finally blossoming into something valuable. The bombast is no longer just fun and ridiculous on a novelty level, it’s quality songwriting and impressive arrangements - instrumentally, lyrically and vocally. And that’s what makes Violet
one of the best EPs on The Color Spectrum
. The theatrics that once were their in their “experiment-zone” on Act III
are now part of their ever-expanding “comfort-zone”. Oh, what a long way we’ve come from ‘The Pimp and the Priest’...