Album Review: The Dear Hunter – Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise

Album Review: The Dear Hunter – Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise

It’s been six years since The Dear Hunter released a new chapter of their long-running concept story, based on the birth, life and death of a boy at the turn of the twentieth century. The band have used the time to explore other projects, genres and styles, resulting in 2011’s thirty-six track concept piece ‘The Colour Spectrum’, 2013’s ‘Migrant’ and frontman Casey Crescenzo’s own symphony ‘Armor and Attrition’, released in 2014. While these records stylistically departed from the core concept, ‘Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise’ is instantly recognisable as the next chapter in the story thanks to the echoes of familiar melodies and concepts from the first three acts. ‘Act IV’ achieves the perfect balance of staying true to the original concept while introducing new influences from the band’s development over the past six years, making this record a celebration of everything they’ve done to date.

Ambition has never been a problem for The Dear Hunter and here it’s manifested through a huge range of styles from fast-paced alternative rock, to folk ballads and disco-pop, all served against a rich orchestral backdrop. These orchestral elements, though present in previous acts, are now richer, more vibrant and creatively layered thanks to Crescenzo’s education during the composition of his symphony. The vibrancy and uplifting pop influence of The Colour Spectrum’s ‘Yellow’ EP comes through on tracks like ‘King of Swords’ and the anthemic ‘Waves’ plays homage to ‘Migrant’ with its pared back orchestral parts and strong chorus. Though these familiar influences are nostalgically warming, ‘Act IV’ is not just a collection of old parts, but an evolution of what’s gone before, shaped by a new level of experience and maturity.

The band’s ability to merge so many styles, layers and instruments without sounding confusing is testimony to their songwriting and despite having now amassed over a century of songs, the material remains fresh and intriguing. On this record in particular Crescenzo, who in the past has been the chief songwriter of this project, opened up the writing process to the whole band and the welcoming of these influences has helped shape this record into a unique addition to the concept. It’s this hunger for adding new styles and influences to their repertoire that makes The Dear Hunter such an exciting and addictive experience and ‘Act IV’ is another superb chapter in already impressive catalogue of concept-based material.

5/5

‘Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise’ by The Dear Hunter is out now on Rude Records.

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Words by Mark Johnson (@testwood)