Band: The Dear Hunter
Title: Colour Spectrum
Released: June 16th 2011
Label: Triple Crown
When Casey Crescenzo, mastermind behind The Dear Hunter, announced The Colour Spectrum – a collection of 9 four-track EPs, each representing a colour in the spectrum, with the addition of black and white – I thought that it was destined to fail. The idea sounded pretentious and overly ambitious; I couldn’t understand how he hoped to create 36 songs for one project and possibly expect that they would all be of sufficient and consistent quality to make this work. Well, while I finish masticating my last few mouthfuls of humble pie, I’ll attempt to explain why you should take note of this album.
I’m unable to maintain objectivity with this review, quite simply because this is one of the greatest collections of music I’ve ever heard. Creating 36 tracks in such a short space of time is a phenomenal undertaking and the fact that every EP is distinctly different, yet every single song is consistently excellent, deserves even more praise. I’ve bought 12 track albums that seem to drag on for days with no end in sight, but at the end of this collection – which runs at a little over two hours – I just jabbed the play button and started again.
Most music listeners should find at least something to enjoy, as each of the nine colours has a different style and a uniquely different feel. For example, Black is steeped in electronics, Yellow is happy, uplifting and sounds almost like the Beach Boys, Green is purely acoustic, Red is anthemic alternative rock and Violet is probably the EP that feels the most like The Dear Hunter’s previous albums. Casey has managed to somehow make each colour feel fresh and unique, yet still maintain a unifying thread throughout the whole collection that never allows you to forget that this is definitely a Dear Hunter record.
On a more contentious note, I feel I should address the ‘colours’ theme. You can spend a lot of time debating the literal aspect of the colours and whether Casey has truly represented what Red means or what White feels like, but this is completely missing the point. Casey stated that each EP was written with the colour as an influence: the songs represent what that colour means to him. We all interpret these things differently and you can waste time debating whether he’s right or wrong in his interpretation, but the bottom line is that these songs are his creation. To enjoy the experience, we should allow Casey to take us on a journey through his senses, absorbing each song as a means of seeing the effect that each one has on him personally. By way of contrast, Thrice took the more literal approach with The Alchemy Index where they attempted to embody the four elements into separate EPs. By dropping in related words such as ‘flames’ and ‘heat’ for the Fire EP and using various aqueous metaphors in Water, the interpretation felt too clumsy and forced. Casey’s non-literal approach to The Colour Spectrum allows the listener to engage in the colour theme without ever imposing it on you, and as such achieves the perfect balance.
I could go on and on about how great this composition is, but the best way to experience it is of course to hear it. Casey created a ‘best-of’ CD version, which has 12 tracks featuring one song from each EP, plus a couple of extras from certain colours. This is a good way of sampling the songs and gauging your interest, but if you like it then I definitely recommend getting the whole set. All 36 tracks are stunning and no matter how many times you play them back, the effect never wears off. The Colour Spectrum is one of the best pieces of music I’ve ever heard and shows that Casey Crescenzo is at the top of his game both as a singer and a songwriter.