Marianas Trench
Astoria


3.3
great

Review

by Davey Boy STAFF
October 22nd, 2015 | 89 replies


Release Date: 10/23/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Copyright lawyers could have a field day with this 80s pilfering.

As can be unsubtly seen by the ‘Goonies’ inspired artwork – and album title – ‘Astoria’ is meant to be a loose concept record inspired by Marianas Trench’s love of 1980s fantasy and adventure films. Music, however, isn’t ultimately governed by the sense of sight, but by that of hearing. Considering this, one can only conclude that the fourth LP by the Vancouver pop-rockers is actually influenced by – no, make that imitating – 1980s chart music! While it is rare to find music that is truly unique and original nowadays, it is just as rare to hear an album which directly pilfers so many riffs, melodies and harmonies as ‘Astoria’ does. Are these actually credited samples or interpolations? One hopes so, or else copyright lawyers could have a field day with this record***.

It takes all of about fifteen seconds for the looting to begin, as the opening title track begins with distant drums that will have listeners begging for Mark Knopfler to enter with an awesome guitar solo. Unfortunately, we don’t get our “money for nothing and chicks for free”, instead receiving anti-climactic keys and seven minutes worth of forced key changes that includes a further, ummm, homage to ‘Sweet Dreams’ by The Eurythmics. Follow-up ‘Burning Up’ pinches the riff from ‘She Drives Me Crazy’ by the Fine Young Cannibals, while the admittedly addictive ‘Yesterday’ begins with the beat from George Harrison’s ‘I Got My Mind Set on You’ before also drawing from Kenny Loggins’ ‘Footloose’. Later, the extra cheesy ‘Shut Up and Kiss Me’ is so obvious in its love of The Jacksons that lead vocalist Josh Ramsay is compelled to close it with “I don’t sound like Mike did, no, but it’s alright for a white kid”!

All of the aforementioned examples don’t even take into account the many influences that would otherwise be simply classified as derivative. Apart from Ramsay mimicking Michael Jackson or Freddie Mercury on most of the seventeen tracks (which include five orchestral interludes), the funky vibe of Prince also pops up a lot. Meanwhile, the quartet step out of the 80s and follow the lead of fun. on the rhythm-strong ‘Who Do You Love’. And then there are the excellent vocal harmonies – provided by all band members – that will remind many listeners of the satisfying bombast of Queen… So much so, that the band clearly reference “killer Queen" on ‘Burning Up’. This latter characteristic is undoubtedly the secret weapon of Marianas Trench in their full transition from pop-punk to pop-rock, an evolution that was foreshadowed by Ramsay’s co-writing and producing credits on Carly Rae Jepsen’s smash hit ‘Call Me Maybe’.

Thankfully, the latter half of ‘Astoria’ settles down into more of what this talented band does best; a diverse, theatrical and ambitious batch of tunes that occasionally bites off more than the outfit can chew. Anthemic second single ‘Wildfire’ should provide the template for Marianas Trench, while the 8 minute behemoth that is ‘End of an Era’ closes the album in suitably epic fashion. Meanwhile, the ukulele-backed ‘Dearly Departed’ and piano-driven ‘Forget Me Not’ add some welcome variety, as well as a healthy dose of heartfelt personal lyrics. Also of note is the crystal clear production – again, courtesy of Ramsay – which adapts to the diversity appropriately.

In all honesty, ‘Astoria’ is not a bad album at all… Even some of the tunes that borrow heavily from other sources, contain their own catchy melodies and the band’s knack for quirky and interesting song-writing. It’s just that the game of “where have I heard that before” is so over-bearingly disconcerting throughout the LP’s fifty-seven minute duration, that it becomes tough to fully appreciate the songs on their own merits. For that reason, ‘Astoria’ is likely to play better to those under twenty-five years of age. Ramsay even acknowledges this on ‘Shut Up and Kiss Me’, with the lyric “If you’re young, it’s new, I guess”.

Recommended Tracks: End of an Era, Yesterday, Wildfire & One Love.


*** Author’s Disclaimer: As at the time of posting this piece, I am unaware if Marianas Trench have given any credits to the writers and/or performers of the original songs mentioned in the above review.



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user ratings (53)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
October 22nd 2015


22443 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

‘Wildfire’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-lMLo11TUc



As a fan of the band, I didn’t enjoy writing this review at all. I had so many other notes jotted down that the review could have been double the size that it currently is. Some will think that the rating doesn’t match up with the review, but the rating really could have landed anywhere between a 2.4 & 3.9.



Considering that the opener & closer are similarly structured attempts at the same type of song, it’s crazy how far apart they are in terms of quality. It’s going to be very interesting to see what the Ratings Graph ends up looking like with this album.

Cygnatti
October 22nd 2015


31678 Comments


Anything as well composed as the opener and closer to the last one?

"There's nooooooo place liiiike home
There's no place liiiiiiike home"

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
October 22nd 2015


22443 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Cyg, I actually preferred the singles off 'Ever After', but if that's what you're looking for, check out the closer here. Check out the opener too, since I want to see if I'm alone in my thinking that the 2 songs are far apart in terms of quality.

I actually really want people to listen to this album full stop, as I think many will find it one of the pop albums of the year.

JonEthan
October 22nd 2015


237 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Dang, it hurt to read this Davey, but I can definitely see how this can be seen as "borrowing" a lot of melodies and harmonies. For me, though, it's like The Black Parade for me, where I don't really mind as long as they provide a great deal of their own personality to it.

Cygnatti
October 22nd 2015


31678 Comments


Ooh I definitely prefer the single works on ever after, rarely in the mood to truly appreciate the opener and closers, but when I do that they're brilliant.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
October 22nd 2015


22443 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Sorry Jon. Decent comparison, but I count 'The Black Parade' as more being heavily influenced (ie: what I describe in paragraph 3 here) rather than what I describe in paragraph 2. That's why I don't have any real issue with the Queen comparisons here. By the way, it's the 23rd down under, so you can re-post your review for an alternative take of sorts.



One of the things I left off the review is that I prefer the 'Ever After' singles to the singles on this LP.

ComeToDaddy
October 22nd 2015


1507 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Despite the relatively low score, I'm really looking forward to hearing this. Always been a sucker for their music, god damn their singles are earworms

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
October 22nd 2015


22443 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Ditto for me CtD. I think I've given all of their past LPs a 4. I've rarely felt the want to write a review, but not actually rate an album. Yet, that's what I kinda wanted to do here.

The 2 singles they have released from this album thus far aren't as earwormy as usual tbh. I'm intrigued if they will release 'Shut Up & Kiss Me', because it has that cheesy Bruno Mars kinda vibe that could mean it will be a big hit, but many will dislike it.

ComeToDaddy
October 22nd 2015


1507 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah I can't imagine them ever making a song as addictive as "Haven't Had Enough" again, though I just gave Wildfire a spin and was pleasantly surprised. I'll spend the remainder of my day listening to their old stuff until I can get home and give this new one a full spin. They're killer live and I can imagine this one will translate really well to concert with all that 80s influence, even if I don't end up enjoying it as much.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
October 22nd 2015


22443 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Good to hear that they are killer live. I've always been intrigued if they can pull off the harmonies on stage.

ComeToDaddy
October 22nd 2015


1507 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Actually managed to catch them twice when they came down under, and was seriously impressed by not only Ramsay's ability to hit his notes, but the whole band nailing each acapella. Can definitely recommend it if they come back for more

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
October 22nd 2015


22443 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Was hoping they'd land on a Soundwave somewhere along the way, but I think AJ has a few issues with their management... They wouldn't be the only ones!

TedSchmosby
October 23rd 2015


755 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

super excited to hear this. josh ramsay is a really smart songwriter

BaseballJames
October 23rd 2015


389 Comments


they actually have a song called "August Burns Red" dsdasdasdadasdaddasdasdasdasdadaasd

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
October 23rd 2015


22443 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Ted, "smart" is actually a good description, although mainly for his past songwriting. Unsure it is smart to pilfer/sample/interpolate as much as he does here.



Yes, James... I was gonna mention the title swapsies those 2 bands are doing.



Also, there's a lot of times here where the band references their own past songs.

ATTA
October 23rd 2015


127 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

It was great with the concept they were covering, but to many transition tracks.

ATTA
October 23rd 2015


127 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

It was great with the concept they were covering, but to many transition tracks.

JonEthan
October 23rd 2015


237 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

As someone who actually liked the transition tracks, i think two could have been cut (Hospital Bells and Never Say Die) that wouldn't have had much of a detrimental effect on the flow of the album.



Gyromania
October 23rd 2015


22338 Comments


these guys blow. good review though!

JWT155
October 23rd 2015


13474 Comments


Someone say Goonies?



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