The Dear Hunter – The Color Spectrum

written by: June 24, 2011
The Dear Hunter - The Color Spectrum album cover Release Date: June 14th, 2011


Casey Crescenzo’s modern progressive rock project The Dear Hunter (not to be confused with Deerhunter) has been one of few bands in a largely stagnant modern prog scene to do something unique and appealing to a broader audience. Putting a post-hardcore/indie spin on the rock opera, the project has birthed three acts of a to-be-six act storyline which have all been excellent in their own respect. These releases have revealed complex arrangements within and without the songs. Recurring lyrical and musical themes bounce in and out tastefully. Still, something like this has the potential to get bloated if the writer doesn’t watch out.

And with that, Crescenzo has taken a much-needed break from his story and has instead put together a more bombastic set of EPs called The Color Spectrum. There are nine EPs altogether: ROYGBIV, with black and white bookending the set. Crescenzo stated on a video he posted on the band’s site that today’s music industry doesn’t believe people have attention spans. He disagrees, and this boxed set is a result—as if creating a six-part rock opera didn’t test a person’s attention span. Disregarding that the set is divided into nine EPs, catering to some attention deficits, listening to the set would definitely test a person’s attention span, clocking in at around 100 minutes in length.

Where other indie-prog act Thrice tried a similar thing in 2007 and ’08 with The Alchemy Index to slightly greater results, The Color Spectrum fulfils the concept nicely.

Thrice’s set was only four EPs, allowing them to really emphasize the different aspects of their sound. With nine EPs, The Dear Hunter blurs some of that distinction: While one can note the difference in sound, it’s not as easy to describe as, say, the heavy one or the electronic one. However, to their credit, the sounds and moods often associated with each color are considered and executed quite well. From the moody, rockier Black set to the bright, summery Yellow to the more balladesque, resolved White one, the discs flow smoothly like a real color spectrum.

For something more easy to digest, the band (or perhaps the label) has also provided an 11-track, 42-minute compilation of tracks for a commercial CD release. It is advisable to stick with this disc. Representative tracks (and perhaps the strongest) have been selected from each color and piecing them together reveals an album-like flow, also making it easier to see the shift in colors by putting them right next to each other.

Crescenzo has done a good job keeping the sound distinctly The Dear Hunter, but different enough from the hugeness of the storyline.

He can write using any arrangement he wants and doesn’t have to be concerned with how it fits in to the grander scheme of a story. Songs can be written completely separate of the others. We see him dabbling in electronics in greater quantities than we’ve seen since his leaving The Receiving End of Sirens on “What Time Taught Us” (Indigo), bouncy pop on “She’s Always Singing” (Yellow) and sparse, folky tunes like “Things That Hide Away” (Green). “Home” from the White EP is a powerful ballad which could have fit somewhere in the story with dazzling results, but even as a standalone track the results are magnificent. The melodies and arrangements are all considerably strong, but the lack of story seems to leave him heading toward clichés in the lyrics: “Why are we here, why do we die? Perhaps we’re never meant to know why.” The wordplay and complex weaving of melody and theme are lost in this medium.

With Coheed spiraling down and their story losing meaning, The Mars Volta getting too absorbed in the occult (and themselves), dredg doing god knows what and Oceansize breaking up, the indie-prog scene has little to offer anymore. The Dear Hunter remains a strong force and The Color Spectrum will be a solid purchase for fans, but those uninitiated may want to check out Act I and go from there.

The Dear Hunter – The Color Spectrum Tracklist:

  1. “Filth and Squalor” (Black)
  2. “Deny It All” (Red)
  3. “But There’s Wolves?” (Orange)
  4. “She’s Always Singing” (Yellow)
  5. “Things That Hide Away” (Green)
  6. “The Canopy” (Green)
  7. “Trapdoor” (Blue)
  8. “What Time Taught Us” (Indigo)
  9. “Lillian” (Violet)
  10. “Home” (White)
  11. “Fall and Flee” (White)

For the tracklist of the full set, click here.