Review Summary: "Still the acrobat with my heart on my sleeve..."
Since their formation in Finland over a decade ago, Poets of the Fall have been delivering quality alternative rock. This is in large part due to vocalist Marko Saaresto, whose emotive vocal performance and poetic lyricism have consistently been an asset, but the other aspect that's made the band stand out is their willingness to change up their sound throughout their discography. Whether it's focusing on hard rock elements (Revolution Roulette
), a more sweeping, cinematic sound (Twilight Theater
), or writing unabashed pop songs (Jealous Gods
), the band has been committed to making each album unique from the last. They've kept an accessible sound while avoiding becoming stale like many of their mainstream rock counterparts in America have. Vocally and lyrically, Marko remains in top form, but Clearview
, while still very enjoyable, is otherwise less adventurous on the songwriting front than previous albums have been.
One thing the band has not forgotten is how to write a catchy hook, which is particularly seen in the album's uptempo opening stretch. 'Drama for Life' provides a dose of spirited hard rock reminiscent of the band's earlier work, while 'The Game' and 'Once Upon a Playground Rainy' are fun melodic rock tracks with infectious choruses that show off the band's pop sensibilities. Although Marko's vocals continue to shine and the hooks remain solid, the album never quite recaptures the energy of those early tracks, particularly as the tempo slows to a crawl toward the end with the balladry of 'Labyrinth' and 'Moonlight Kiss'. Both tracks work well on their own, but the album's latter portion would have been much better served with more uptempo tracks that contrasted their minimalist musical style.
is a solid release from Poets of the Fall that is only let down by playing things a bit too safe on the instrumental side. The solo at the end of 'The Game' is one of Clearview
's highlights, but moments like these are few and far between. Jealous Gods
, the band's previous album, was similarly pop-oriented but it featured more diverse songwriting and it still managed to deliver some standout guitar moments. While Clearview
still boasts strong hooks, particularly in its first half, and is still a worthwhile listen, a more dynamic musical performance throughout would have taken it even further. Hopefully, Poets of the Fall rediscovers that adventurous streak and branches out from their current pop-rock style, as enjoyable as that can be. If they do, they may still have some of their best work ahead of them.