Review Summary: Casey Crescenzo creates his most introverted album to date, with stunning results.
For those unfamiliar with The Dear Hunter, here is a brief summary: the band is the progressive/indie/experimental brainchild of Casey Crescenzo. Between 2006 and 2009, Casey released the first three parts in what was originally planned to be a six-part concept album series following the life of a young boy known as “The Dear Hunter”. In 2011, Casey took a quick turn by dropping The Color Spectrum, an overly ambitious collection of nine EPs, each representing a musical interpretation of a particular colour.
In the past, Casey’s music has been rather eccentric. Although Acts I-III and The Color Spectrum have been hailed as “crowning achievements in rock”, Casey has proven album after album that his ambition can sometimes get the better of him, resulting in what some describe as “lazy songwriting”. Casey has always written within the scope of a single concept, with his lyrics and musical arrangements often filtered through this lens.
On Migrant, Casey has really broken his own mold. Migrant is the first album by The Dear Hunter to not be unified by a single narrative. Casey has instead written 12 songs that, although not driven by narrative, are unified by the concept of looking within oneself and facing one’s own faults. The end result is that Migrant is massive, triumphant, and heart-wrenchingly honest – a pleasant surprise from a band infamous for its obscure narratives.
From the opening tracks “Bring You Down” and “Whisper”, it is clear that Casey is on to something big. Casey’s compositional skills have vastly improved from The Color Spectrum. Although the arrangements at first seem simpler, Casey has taken a lot of care with the subtleties: the jazzy piano flourishes, the string arrangements, and the overall intricate dynamics of each song. And while lead single “Whisper” might make it seem like The Dear Hunter have taken a stadium-esque, Arcade Fire approach, the album does not have the same energy – but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Migrant continues to spiral deeper and deeper into Casey’s thoughts, as the album begins to slow in pace with only a few energetic moments on “Girl” and in the outro of “Cycles”. However, Casey surprises you with one of the album’s shining moments, “Let Go”, a 6/8 titan of a song which builds to a massive, jazzy climax, only to wind down with the remaining two tracks.
Overall, Migrant is a huge step forward for Casey Crescenzo and The Dear Hunter. The compositions are more honest and less superfluous; the lyrics are just as sincere. Casey takes a look in the mirror and shows himself to the world through what may just be his magnum opus – a conscious effort to write what he really knows, with a sincerity unmatched by any work in The Dear Hunter’s collection.