Marianas Trench
Astoria


4.0
excellent

Review

by JonEthan USER (5 Reviews)
October 23rd, 2015 | 7 replies


Release Date: 10/23/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Where a story ends.

A lot has happened for the pop-rock act Marianas Trench since the release of their last LP, the cinematic pop-opera Ever After. Lead singer Josh Ramsay created a superstar in Carly Rae Jepsen through his production in the inescapable “Call Me Maybe”. The song went #1 in 19 countries, and shed a great deal of light onto the band. Unfortunately, not everything was destined to go well for the band. Josh’s mother ended up into the hospital, his fiancée ended their engagement, and Josh ended up there himself when he developed gallstones. What luck.

All of these changes make Astoria the most personal work the band has released since their debut album, Fix Me. Despite the admittedly goofy concept (Josh wanted the concept to be a coming of age story, picking the Goonies of all things), this album is a little more organic in sound when compared to the synth-laden Ever After. This album broadens out and expands on its influences, combining elements of disco, funk, and progressive pop. The Motown dance floor vibe of “Shut Up and Kiss Me” or the electric guitar that fuels “Burning Up”, this album certainly has the energy and the fun vibe that prevents the band from seeming too pretentious. There are still noticeably Queen-like harmonies utilized here as well, used to the greatest effect on “Who Do You Love” and “This Means War”.

The two singles currently out probably hurt the flow of the album the most, sounding more contemporary and synth-driven than the rest of the album. First single “One Love” is mostly uninteresting from an instrumental standpoint with its synths and violins, but is carried by Josh’s incredible vocal presence, demonstrated towards the end of the song where the song quiets down for a bit until it resurges into a powerful climax. “Wildfire” is noticeably the most definitely “Marianas Trench” as the obligatory power ballad, and is probably the most generic out of any of the tracks on here.

So while Masterpiece Theatre had its three title tracks, and Ever After had its Toyland concept, Astoria utilizes interludes to move along the narrative via the inclusion of interludes. These interludes utilizes an orchestra to provide a more cinematic mood in the journey between tracks. However, the most surprising part of this record comes when the band decides to simplify, such on mid-album highlight “Dearly Departed”. This song possesses nothing more than a ukulele and some accompanying strings in the background, allowing the sheer emotion of Josh’s delivery to hit the listener.

The most innovative and interesting parts of this record are of course the title track and the closer, both of which have always been the band’s trademark playground for self-indulgence. “Astoria” borrows perhaps a bit too liberally from The Who, but is never ashamed nor uninspired with how it displays its influences. “End of An Era”, however, acts as a reprise for not just the album, but also sums up and reprises themes and elements from the previous two albums, hinting that this might indeed be a change in direction, or even a place to finish their rapid ascent to the top of Canada’s pop charts.

So yes, this is a blatant nostalgia trip that often reuses more than it truly invents. However, if you’re content with hooks galore, energetic vocals, and inventive lyrics, then take solace that at least this treasure is in the hands of these good-hearted rogues.

Recommended: Who Do You Love, Dearly Departed, End of An Era


user ratings (53)
Chart.
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
Davey Boy STAFF (3.3)
Copyright lawyers could have a field day with this 80s pilfering....


Comments:Add a Comment 
JonEthan
October 23rd 2015


237 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

So this is my re-upload guys, hope it's pretty decent. I actually love this album, and frankly don't find a problem with all of the samples and influences. Perhaps that simply has to do with my age, though. (Ditto to Davey) ;)

DearAmbellina
November 19th 2015


3 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Great review, completely and utterly underrated band by the music community. This is pop music with integrity, folks. End of an Era in particular is stunning.

Archael
November 19th 2015


1163 Comments


so i guess ripping off numerous bands from the 80s passes off as "integrity" now.

DearAmbellina
November 20th 2015


3 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Sure. A criticism you can apply to an incredible number of respected bands. The difference between being "influenced by" and "ripping off" comes down to whether you like the band or not. That's an entirely reductive and dismissive way to critique an album, especially in the absence of any other argument. They're a talented band with a great singer and have been since Masterpiece Theater, which I guess "ripped off" Queen.

Archael
November 20th 2015


1163 Comments


band is fun and catchy, but certainly not the epitome of integrity or even stunning quality.
and ofc there's a difference between ripping off and influence, but how do you explain these:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBX7H6ckna0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vj_UEJjUIQ4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvnP6BmQvEk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYU9hrvIYUA

and many more instances for just that one album.

the simple truth is that the band rips off many, more famous bands/artists and have been doing so for some time - which i personally have no big issue with (i quite enjoy the two albums before this one). but this band should in no way be heralded for their integrity, but for catchy songwriting and melodies and even occasional creative tendencies (a la masterpiece theatre 3).

JonEthan
November 22nd 2015


237 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Fair points Archael. Their best strength has been their ability to write pop hooks and Josh's vocal presence, both of which are here to a significant degree. Does that make them original? Not really. Is it really fucking fun? Absolutely.

DearAmbellina
November 25th 2015


3 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Am I to condemn Coheed and Cambria for ripping off Thin Lizzy on Goodnight Fair Lady? Or Karnivool for basically sounding like a Tool cover band? I get your point, I just feel differently about it. Especially since this is, more or less, an 80s inspired concept record. And for the sake of argument, let's say they crossed that line... In no way does it detract from their original and epic pop songs -Astoria and End of an Era - which is some of the most interesting pop music I've heard in this era. I just can't condemn them for something like this. And I am continually stunned by Ramsay's vocals, his range and control are masterclass.



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