In the past decade, some no-talent ass-clown indie bands have attempted to make overarrangement an art form -- concocting songs with way too many vocoders, keytars, beatz (yeah, with a "z"), xylophones and tubas. And to what end? Sounding more Eno than Eno? Pshaw!

Then, of course, there are the artists who have excelled at it -- Sufjan Stevens, Radiohead and Arcade Fire come to mind. Sure, some of it is still highly pretentious, but the majority of it is good music (i.e. nobody need apologize for an occasional theremin, Melotron or stringed quartet).

Which brings us to the Dear Hunter, aka songwriter and vocalist Casey Crescenzo, whose cup, no doubt, runneth over with talent and arranging chops -- but whose musical output can’t seem to shake the gaudy, unlistenable quality of the False Eno-ites. Case in point: his previous flurry of EPs, each named for a single color. (Our review? Imagine us throwing up a bag of Skittles.)

On his latest, ‘Migrant,’ he loses the high-art conceptual format but manages to produce yet another overproduced set of songs, making Brian Wilson’s fireman-hat-in-a-sandbox antics seem like routine schoolyard recess. (Thankfully, the album arrives sans color scheme, as far as we can tell.) Ironically, the opening of a song called ‘Whisper’ sounds like ABBA playing the ‘William Tell Overture’ on speed, and the song unravels, dramatically, from there, turning into an even greater mess of needless production quirks. ‘Cycles’ inexplicably features an underwater vocal effect as part of a 30-second intro, only to clean out into the sound Hoobastank made highly avoidable. One after another, these songs develove into tales of studio excess -- with little rest for weary listeners.

We’d like to point out that the Dear Hunter’s operatic pipes (think: a slightly edgier Jeff Buckley) are a major point in his favor -- a wonderful gift that any pop artist on the Top 10 would die for. We’d suggest he connect with Max Martin or Gotye on the next go round -- and allow one of them to co-write and man the control room.

3 out of 10 rating

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