More often than not, when you see my name in the header of an article here at Type In Stereo, it’s safe to assume that you’re about to embark on some long winded voyage of (vaguely pretentious) analytics…or the exact opposite of that. But I – like all of you reading this – am a fan of music too. And sometimes I just have to shut my mouth, sit back and be amazed at what a band is able to do. This is one of those times.
When The Dear Hunter announced that April 2nd would see the release of their next album, Migrant, I was astounded. Well, first I rejoiced with comically awkward fist-pump-dancing…and then I was astounded. There have been prodigious bands in the past – heck, John Gourley of Portugal. The Man once said that he believed a band should release a new album every year (and they’ve just about done that), and even The Beatles had something of a preposterous release schedule over the course of an eight-year period – but what The Dear Hunter has been doing over the past few years is in a world apart. Aside from releasing a new album just about every other year, the band records and releases almost all of their material by themselves. And did I mention that one of their releases was a massive 36-track project? It was. And it was awesome. Needless to say, what we’re seeing right now from The Dear Hunter is pretty well unprecedented. Upon the birth of Migrant, TDH will have released five albums and a total of 85 songs since Casey and Co. débuted Act I: The Lake South, The River North in 2006. That’s simply a crazy amount of material, and it doesn’t even take into account the Dear Ms. Leading demos or any of the other unreleased or unofficial tracks that the band has compiled. Given the complexity of their arrangements and the overall quality of both their song-writing and production, this is a truly remarkable run.
Of course, it’s not just the fact that The Dear Hunter is releasing another record that is exciting, it’s that their previous efforts give us every reason to believe that Migrant will be nothing short of stellar. Those who have taken umbrage with The Dear Hunter’s previously steadfast refusal to make a “normal” (that is, non-conceptual) album will have to find another reason to gripe now, as Migrant will hold a unique position in the band’s catalog: for the first time in their release history, The Dear Hunter have crafted an album that is not a concept album. It’s not part of the band’s primary saga (as were Acts I-III), nor is it a standalone conceptual project (as was The Color Spectrum); Migrant is a standalone work. No theme. No concept. No ongoing story. Just one sole album by one of the most talented and prolific bands in the industry. It says a lot about The Dear Hunter that this album is here at all – just 18 months after the release of the massive The Color Spectrum project – and it says more about them that, in their case, “thinking outside the box” means not creating a concept album. Most of all, though, I’m inclined to say that the normality of the album should lead to some fantastic music. The following video bolsters that statement.
‘Whisper,’ the album’s first single, is a great example of just how good a rock band The Dear Hunter are. It’s easy to forget about their sheer musical talent when focussing on the thematic and conceptual aspects of their previous work, but it shines through brilliantly on this song. Lacking symbolic purpose or thematic necessity, it is embedded in structural simplicity, but it uses that simplicity well. I recently lamented that Coheed & Cambria’s new album occasionally got the structure right while coming up short in the quality department, well with ‘Whisper,’ The Dear Hunter have shown that they don’t need elaborate structures to be worth hearing. ‘Whisper’ may be simple, but it is of a very high quality all the same.
I’m counting down the days to Migrant, just as I have for every other release by The Dear Hunter. It’s a special kind of excitement and I hope that many of you are feeling it too. This is what it’s like to bear witness to one of the finest acts of our time.
Banner image received from http://www.infectiousmagazine.com
This post originally appeared at Type In Stereo.