After three albums and a large collection of EPs, The Dear Hunter have returned with their fourth full-length, Migrant. Continuing the group’s signature sound, blending experimental indie rock with orchestral melodies, the album is a natural progression from their prior work. Singer/songwriter Casey Crescenzo has mastered his blend of powerful melodies and catchy choruses to create an album which sits nicely within the rest of the band’s discography. Though the ground which is tread feels fairly familiar, the songs on Migrant are a testament to the abilities of The Dear Hunter to continue creating consistently solid and unique music.
Migrant‘s strengths lie within its intelligent songwriting. The songs each feel composed, built from backbones to fully realized tracks that stretch themselves to their fullest potential. Emotional vocals glide over the top of beautiful piano lines with engaging rhythms and the variety of instrumentation causes a unique timbre which flows excellently with Crescenzo’s singing. With each repeated listen, the power contained within the songs is able to fully shine through. Like viewing an intricate picture, every time it’s looked over different areas stand out and are noticed.
Lyrically, this album is the most personal and direct yet. All of The Dear Hunter’s prior releases were based around the idea of a wholly encompassing concept (the first three albums, the Acts, all focused on the life story of the eponymously-named character The Dear Hunter and the large set of EPs, entitled The Color Spectrum, was a collection of songs based on colors of the visual spectrum). Doing away with the idea of a concept, Migrant was able to be opened up lyrically and conceptually to Crescenzo. Songs discuss shame, the loss of hope, being overly cynical, the bliss of ignorance, isolating yourself, and a whole multitude of other topics. The lyrics hit with powerful veracity and conjure a wide variety of emotions. It feels that perhaps after so many years of concept-focused inspiration, Migrant is a release from the confines of pigeonholing one’s creativity.
Though the songs on this album are well crafted, many of them feel too familiar. They fit almost too well within The Dear Hunter’s discography. For example, “Cycles” sounds awfully similar to “What It Means to Be Alone” from 2009’s Act III. Crescenzo’s musical style is unique, but with uniqueness comes the inherent flip-side of repetition. Some sections of these tracks feel like they’ve come directly from the Dear Hunter vault, pasted from earlier songs into these newer ones. However, most segments that sound the same still sound fantastic. The rhythms and melodies used are perhaps reintroduced because of how interesting or cool they feel.
Overall, Migrant is a natural step for The Dear Hunter. Although nothing on this record has broken new ground for the group, they’ve taken what they do well and run with it. It comes off less cohesive than previous releases, but it’s to be expected when transitioning from concept-focused records to a totally open, concept-less album. Lyrically poignant and musically beautiful, Migrant is yet another collection of songs that Dear Hunter fans are bound to love.