The Dear Hunter, "Act III: Life And Death"

The Boston-based Dear Hunter shares any number of parallels with the similarly named groups Deerhunter and Deerhoof, most notably an animal namesake and a penchant for dramatic, dissonant, style-shifting rock. But the Dear Hunter's war-themed third release (and part three of its rock opera) takes the musical skin-shedding to a whole new level and finds the band exploring baroque orchestral arrangements, Broadway-esque piano ballads and everything in between. One minute Dear Hunter leader Casey Crescenzo is drenched in a backdrop of lush harmonies ("Writing on a Wall"), the next he's roaring through a wall of bombastic guitars and horns ("In Cauda Venenum"). The genre-leaping proves a bit tiring, but Crescenzo pulls most of it off without sounding pretentious. In fact, some of the tracks (most notably the Southern-fried, banjo-soaked "Go Get Your Gun") are even fun.

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