Release Date: Sep 4, 2015
Record label: Equal Vision
Review Summary: There's that subtle smile that did me in. If there's a more masterful mind than Casey Crescenzo composing in the progressive rock arena, I'd like to hear them. The simple fact of the matter is that there's no one out there batting closer to 1.
There’s always been a theatrical quality to the work of the Dear Hunter (which makes sense since mastermind Casey Crescenzo grew up in a musical family). The group’s first three LPs (which made up the initial half of a planned six-Act epic) demonstrated not only dense, heartfelt storytelling and wonderfully histrionic melodies, but also a plethora of genre-defying deviations and complexities, fusing styles like indie rock, pop, progressive rock, folk, chamber, and Vaudeville in a way no other modern band has done. While the quintet’s two recent deviations from the project—The Color Spectrum (2011) and Migrant (2013)—were both stunning works that retained much of the same specialties, The Dear Hunter is surely at its dramatic best on the Act records (so many fans were still chomping at the bit for a proper follow-up to 2009’s Act III: Life and Death).
Never say Casey Crescenzo lacks ambition. If this guy had been in the control room for NASA’s lunar mission, he would’ve been griping about how we weren’t thinking “big” enough. The Providence-based songwriter is the self-styled Proust of prog rock. If he’s so vain, it’s because the song is about him, though what it’s really about is the aporia of existence and the cyclical nature of life, etc., etc.
The Dear Hunter's always been an intriguing music-maker. Casey Crescenzo has used it as a vehicle to get more imaginative and much more creative than The Receiving End of Sirens allowed and it's been a fun-ride hearing him express this artistically. Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise continues this descent into his mind and feels familiarly explicit, especially riding the wave of a back catalog and live albums, that possess a lot of character and not to sound cheesy, a lot of pizzazz.
Casey Crescenzo and the Dear Hunter have finally returned to their conceptual album series with its fourth installment, Act IV: Rebirth In Reprise. With some new explorations entwined, Act IV exhibits all facets of the band's alluring brand (extensive instrumentation, orchestral theatrics and experimental whimsy) in impressive form. Moreover, re-imagined segments of erstwhile offerings from the series are scattered throughout (hence the title), most notably with additions to Act II's ongoing parts of "The Bitter Suite.