Act III: Life and Death
When the subject of concept albums comes up, rock historians tend to think of the 1970s and '80s. Pink Floyd's The Wall, the Who's Quadrophenia, and Elton John's Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy are often cited as great concept albums of the '70s, and Queensr???che's Operation: Mindcrime from 1988 is widely regarded as the ultimate power metal concept album. But concept albums didn't disappear when alternative rock became rock's primary direction in the early '90s. Green Day's American Idiot (2004) and Radiohead's OK Computer (1997) are well-known alternative rock concept albums, and the concept album approach is alive and well on the Dear Hunter's 2009 release Act III: Life and Death. This CD is the third of a series of Dear Hunter albums focusing on a character called "The Boy"; in Act III, The Boy is now a man, and the songs describe his struggles in life. Some concept albums have become a victim of their own ambition; they had great intentions but were damaged by their lofty excesses. Thankfully, that doesn't happen on Act III: Life and Death, which finds lead singer Casey Crescenzo's ambition paying off handsomely. Successful concept albums work well as a cohesive whole but also have great songs that stand on their own, and that holds true on Act III: Life and Death. It's best to listen to this CD from start to finish in one sitting in order to get the concept album experience, but even if one isn't big on concept albums, tracks like "Life and Death," "The Poison Woman," and "Go Get Your Gun" have no problem standing on their own. Crescenzo brings a wide variety of influences to this disc, ranging from Radiohead and Coldplay to Queen, the Beach Boys, and the Beatles; the result is an engaging alternative pop/rock effort that has a strong awareness of classic rock but without sounding overtly nostalgic. Crescenzo's willingness to turn to different rock eras for creative inspiration yields excellent results on Act III: Life and Death. ~ Alex...