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REVIEW: Dead Letter Circus – “The Endless Mile”

Are you a fan of country music, acoustic or folk? Do you also adore prog rock for being more interesting and inspiring than “normal pop music“? Oh yes, we have something for you.

The Endless Mile isn’t new music by Dead Letter Circus, at least not primarily. The band collected a sum of their previous songs to rediscover them. In fact, it’s their debut EP The Mile, plus five additional songs. What sets them apart from the previously released versions of these tracks is that all songs on The Endless Mile are solely performed on acoustic instrumentation. But what is the result?

The Mile

“The Mile” might be the stand out song for  Dead Letter Circus. It wasn’t only on their first ever EP, it’s also the title track and opener. It’s still my personal favorite song by them, and I am very sure that I’m not alone in this opinion. The acoustic version definitely lost all of the original’s drive. It is more of a slow-paced version that seems more chilled while the guitar melodies are the focus. The vocals still ensure some catchy hooks, but the guitar work gets a new spotlight without being obscured by distortion.

In addition to acoustic guitar, there is also great piano work that outlines chords and melodies, such as the finger flicking of “Lines”. The Endless Mile sounds very natural, organic and vivid in a positive way, with the occasional electronic flourish.

Strings

Some orchestral string arrangements definitely create a very powerful, majestic mood on songs like “Disconnect And Apply” while adding a driving feeling that almost feels rushed. Most surprisingly might be the reggae/surf groove of  “Are We Closer”. In fact, in addition to the track’s Hammond organ, it is challenging to find the new version’s common ground with the original. This shows that the songs on The Endless Mile are not only acoustic versions of previous songs, but reworked and re-inspired interpretations that stand on their own.

“Alien”, the last track off the EP, sounds more like a contemporary ambient song, with a very hip hop-ish and digital drum beat, lots of droning sounds and a landscape of delay and ambiance. In fact, a change of beat makes the track quite distinct. Even if the vocal line stays the same as the original song, it’s something completely new. Fleshed out with epic string sections, we get a very similar sound to Olafur Arnalds.

The Following

Songs like “Here We Divide“ (A quite surprising track! Just listen to that bass tone!) or “While You Wait” also function very well in the acoustic and reshaped context. The use of strings within “While You Wait” enlightens the song in a new, almost neo-classical way, again similar to Olafur Arnolds. A lot of emotion and detail shape the new form of the band’s latest lead single. Dead Letter Circus manages to build their prog songs into something else, whether it be electronic music, post rock or neo-classical. Regardless of how you classify this new sound, it definitely is interesting.

If you wanted to hear a broadened, more dynamic interpretation of Dead Letter Circus‘ music, you will love this. If you never liked Dead Letter Circus, give it a try. The best part about this record is the rediscovery of The Mile; the other songs are decent, but a little less creative. Make sure to listen to this, especially the awesome version of “Are We Closer”! The Endless Mile will be released on May 12.

dead letter circus
Score: 8/10

Notable Tracks: “The Mile”; “Are We Closer”; “While You Wait”

FFO: Dead Letter Circus, Olafur Arnalds, Karnivool

Follow Dead Letter Circus on Facebook! Make sure to pre-order The Endless Mile here.

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