Album: Act II: The Meaning of, & All Things Regarding Ms. Leading by The Dear Hunter
Released: May 22nd, 2007
The Dear Hunter was formed in 2005 after Casey Crescenzo was kicked out of his previous band, The Receiving End of Sirens. What was originally a side project while he was in TREOS, The Dear Hunter became Casey’s full-time project and he recorded the first album, Act I: The Lake South, The River North, almost entirely on his own with help from friends and family. Telling the tragic life story of boy a growing up at the end of the 19th century, the band released the first three acts in 2006, 2007, and 2009 before taking a departure with their 2011 release, The Color Spectrum. This collection contained nine four-song EPs; each individual EP corresponded to a color for a total of 36 songs of various genres and moods. The band followed up with another stand-alone release, Migrant, in 2013 before returning to release the fourth and fifth acts in 2015 and 2016 respectively. The Dear Hunter has released seven full-length albums in the eleven years since their first album, continues to tour, and will be releasing a new EP this December titled All is as All Should Be.
**Spoiler Warning – Story Details Ahead**
The Story and the Songs:
Picking up where the previous album left off, “The Death and the Berth” serves as a short segue between Act I and Act II. “The Procession” is a hard hitting rock track much like “City Escape” and describes the death of Hunter’s mother. Featuring more layers of instrumentation, “The Procession” conveys the urgency of Hunter’s loss as he realizes the choice of what to do next ahead of him: stay in the safety of his home, or take a step into the wider world. “The Lake and the River” grooves in to describe Hunter’s decision to leave his sheltered upbringing and ends with a chorus of voices which transition into an a capella steam engine locomotive to set up “The Oracles on the Delphi Express”. One of the most story-heavy songs, “The Oracles on the Delphi Express” tells of the trials to come for Hunter; it directly references events in subsequent songs as the train deposits Hunter at the City. “The Church and the Dime” sways with references to “The Pimp and the Priest” from the previous album, reusing lyrics to strengthen the connection between songs.
As Hunter makes his way through the City, “The Bitter Suite 1 and 2: Meeting Miss Leading and Through the Dime” introduces the listener to the album’s eponymous character, Miss Leading; the woman for whom Hunter is doomed to fall. He follows her into the Dime, a local brothel run by The Pimp and The Priest and her place of employment. “The Bitter Suite 3: Embrace” represents the actual act of Miss Leading and Hunter’s coupling, describing his infatuation and their physical intimacy. As his euphoria wears off, Hunter awakes in “Smiling Swine”, where he subsequently meets The Pimp and The Priest and takes a job as a driver for the escorts. His sheltered upbringing has made him so naïve that he doesn’t realize Miss Leading’s real occupation. “Evicted” and “Blood of the Rose” continue the tropes of foretelling Hunter’s eventual tragedies as the album nears its climax.
“Red Hands” is a song of heartbreak after Hunter learns that Miss Leading is indeed a prostitute and he feels the full weight of perceived betrayal. “Where the Road Parts” is a bluesy lament of their time together as Hunter looks back on his time with Miss Leading. “Dear Ms. Leading” showcases the anger and frustration of the spurned lover, coming in with more aggression than the previous songs and a brief, but enticing, guitar solo. The closing tracks “Black Sandy Beaches” and “Vital Vessel Vindicates” comprise opposite ends of the tonal spectrum with the former meandering through melancholy before moving on to accept the situation in the final song.
Act II, while still tonally similar to Act I, is a bit more refined in its production and overall storytelling. There is a lot of anger and frustration in this album on both the part of Hunter and some of the musical motifs that carry on into later albums, but the instrumentation has much more variety present which adds to the experience of listening. This is a post-hardcore album, but there are progressive elements that showcase a band still refining its sound and musical direction.
Please enjoy some song recommendations, a song from the album, and check out the band’s social media accounts below!
Song recommendations: “The Procession”, “The Oracles on the Delphi Express”, “Smiling Swine”, “Evicted”, “Where the Road Parts”
Previously: Act I: The Lake South, The River North
The images featured in this post can be found through the hyperlinks below.