The Dear Hunter came across my radar in late 2015 with the release of Act IV: Rebirth In Reprise, and quickly became one of my favourite artists. The scope of The Dear Hunter’s work is immense; there are multi-album concepts, EP’s for each color of the rainbow, and arrangements that manage to be beautiful and bombastic all at once. For such an ambitious project, The Dear Hunter’s pace is exceptionally impressive; Act IV and Act V arrived with hardly twelve months between them. Barely a year later, The Dear Hunter has returned with the six-song EP: All Is As All Should Be.
Though All Is As All Should Be is separate from the ongoing The Dear Hunter saga, it is nonetheless conceptual in its own right. Mastermind Casey Crescenzo explains:
‘Our goal would be to invite our friends—fans of the band—into the creative process… to be a conduit for their hearts and minds… While every single one of you is wholly unique, this EP, and these people, represent the extended family of The Dear Hunter – all of you leaving a fingerprint on these songs, and this project.’
The six track EP functions as a sampler of sorts for The Dear Hunter, and yet feels more intimate and direct than their more dramatic, conceptual works. This starts with “The Right Wrong”, a song that melds organs, electric pianos, dynamic vocals, and a potent guitar riff into an upbeat reflection on choice, regret, and acceptance. ‘Would I return to you / To the love I knew / Or would I have undone / All the good that gives misery meaning?’ The energy carries on into the grimy theatrics of “Blame Paradise”, which evokes the spirit of Coheed and Cambria, and even Mr. Bungle.
The upbeat drama of the first two tracks is a strong start to the EP before drifting into softer territory with “Beyond The Pale”. I generally love The Dear Hunter’s balladic tracks, and this song starts with a very promising mix of droning acoustics, beautiful vocal melodies, and shimmering synths. It says something of the EP that this blissful track is perhaps the least engaging track here, especially when compared to its follow-up. “Shake Me (Awake)” is the poppiest number I’ve heard from The Dear Hunter, conjuring comparisons to Violet Road, Billy Joel, and Death Cab For Cutie. Though its reference to ‘haters’ is unexpectedly blasé for the poetic lyricism I’ve come to expect from the group, this song is easily one of the catchiest, most fun songs I’ve heard in a while.
The EP’s third act begins with the melancholic meditations of “Witness Me”, ending with the title track. The songs dance deftly between genres in a way only The Dear Hunter can, pulling light electronics, 80s synths, and uneasy melodies together in an enchantingly cohesive way. “All Is As All Should Be” begins in a similarly creeping way before soaring choruses momentarily give us a sense of relief. Yet, there is a cautionary close to the EP – an unexpected melodic turn is matched by a disquieting query: ‘As I fade away / Will you finally come to be / Or will this cycle end?’
All Is As All Should Be is an articulate, reflective love letter to fans of The Dear Hunter; each song shows a different element of the group, yet feels cohesive as a six track EP. The songs are elegantly composed and ambitiously arranged, pulling disparate sounds into a unified offering. Though I have a few aforementioned small qualms with the EP, All Is As All Should Be shows that The Dear Hunter are more than capable of delivering quality releases at an impressive pace.
FFO: Coheed and Cambria, Mr. Bungle, Death Cab For Cutie
Notable Tracks: “The Right Wrong”; “Blame Paradise”; “Shake Me (Awake)”