Casey Crescenzo has recorded four full-length albums as The Dear Hunter (three of which are the first half in a planned six-part series), as well as a novel based on the albums’ mythology. His latest album, Migrant, stands alone. It’s Crescenzo’s first time working outside of the structure of a concept album and while it reaches the grandiosity of his previous releases, the results are uneven.
Most of what’s worthwhile in Migrant fades out halfway through the album. The build of opener “Bring You Down” has an imperceptible anxiety to it that sits right on top of your chest. It’s never quite relieved until the first chorus of “Whisper”, when Crescenzo screams, “I think that we’ve all made our gravest mistakes / On the greatest intentions that we’re too stubborn to let go!” The cascading cymbals that follow form an unhindered scream, releasing tension to help the listener relax and enjoy the ride.
But from that point on, Migrant doesn’t quite hold the summit. “Shame” features a change in tone with its bossa nova beat, and “An Escape” pops and explodes in all the right places. Then things stray into mimicry with “A Kiss of Life” riding a My Morning Jacket influence, and “Girl” tipping into Black Keys-style production and sound. After that, the songs laze into a self-indulgent largeness, too much instrumentation drowning out uninspired filler.
The Dear Hunter could have had an album of heart-slamming, vein-popping heft, but instead Migrant feels like two unattached EPs. The meandering, navel-gazing second half diminishes the succinct and undeniable power of the first.
Essential Tracks: “Bring You Down”, “Whisper”