Sound — 10
"Act II: The Meaning of, & All Things Regarding Ms. Leading" is the debut album from The Dear Hunter, an avant orchestra pop band. Even putting the band under the mouthful "an avant orchestra pop band" doesn't exactly make justice to everything the band successfully incorporates into this concept masterpiece. Oh no, dear (heh), you'll be greeted with large doses of jazz, blues, punk, electronica, waltz, circus, saloon music, and baritone railroad chants. Great sudden climaxes in the songs are reminiscent to those of Mr. Bungle and The Mars Volta ("De-Loused in the Comatorium" days), which incidentally means that the climaxes also change the style of music within individual songs. Although there are catchy melodies, don't think this is simple music, odd meters are spread throughout the album, intricate layers, and tons of instruments (most of which is performed by the man who created the band, Casey Crescenzo, former guitarist and singer of The Receiving End of Sirens. I really enjoy this album, better than the EP "Act I: The Lake South, the River North" and really anything that TREOS could ever make (imo), but I really can't stand TREOS so thoughts to myself. Album of the year 2007.
Lyrics — 10
A moment of silence (The Death and Berth) and The Procession work together to show that Ms. Terri has died, the dear hunter's only matriarchal figure. When she dies, he decides to leave the land of the river and the lake, his depart on the Delphi Express. This is when he finds the Oracles, who are having problems with their god, they depict images of his future, "crimson hands", "masquerading brandish words", and conflict. So now he wanders back to his town, and he finds more out about the house church. There, he meets Ms. Leading, a "former hooker" he falls in love with, believing her when she says "that part of her life" is over with, working for the pimp. After that night of their "intimacy", he can't get her out of his head, only to become more suspicious about her and why she she sleeps on the curbside. Eventually, he leaves Ms. Leading because he knows what she really is. Meanwhile, a girl on a beach finds messages he's sent to Ms. Leading, the first is vicarious love, because he did love her at first, and the second is pain because he then gained knowledge of what she was, yadayadayada. Through this experience, he's not on the "fence between pain and arrogance" anymore, he's now enlightened of his past love, and he's ready to move on. First though, he's still got to know more about his goddammed history, so yet again, "Sing softly, sing me to the lake, sing softly, bring me to the lake." That's my take on it, at least. Act II is an emotional album across all levels, universal to anyone. And how the vocal harmonies work with the story, it'll give you shivers. Casey, himself, has gotten better as a singer as well, able to sing with incredible range, and all in his chest, no falsetto here.
Overall Impression — 10
Compared to other albums, this is one of the best pieces of work my ears have ever had the pleasure to be so aurally massaged. The most impressive, all are all necessary to make the album what it is. Music! Music is to love and the joy of it's beautiful literature available for interpretation, but simple enough to be understood. If this were stolen, I'd call out a hit on the man who stole it, take the album from him, and even then buy a new one. Ace album.