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The Dear Hunter - Act II: The Meaning Of, And All Things Regarding Ms. Leading CD (album) cover

ACT II: THE MEANING OF, AND ALL THINGS REGARDING MS. LEADING

The Dear Hunter

 

Crossover Prog

4.01 | 171 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Ray Stokes
4 stars When hearing an album for the first time I always consider it a good sign if I feel a little put-off, but I still want to listen to it again. That's how I felt with this one, and what threw me off was the vocal stylings (ranging from soft melodic to screaming to whiny) and the quirkiness of the sound, but strangely enough those were also the reasons that had me wanting more. I had to know if the ranging quirkiness actually meant something in the context of the album, or if this was just a collection of songs. I'm glad to say that it does mean something, and it's great.

This is the second album of an on going (three albums as of this writing) coming-of-age tale. This particular chapter explores the narrator's first sexual experience, and the subsequent romance that blossoms (as well as his recovery from his mother's passing at the end of the previous album). This blossoming only comes from his perspective, as the woman he crushes on, Ms. Leading, is a prostitute. It took me many listens to come onto the story, but it was when I did that I started to truly appreciate and love this album.

One of the greatest strengths of this album is the song writing. I believe this to be one of the few albums that gets the idea of the concept album correct; each song tells a little story, contributing to the bigger concept, with no song being shoe-horned in to progress the tale. Each track has it's own sound depending on the subject matter, and the styles change quite a bit throughout, with some recurring themes to boot. "The Bitter Suite 3: Embrace" is when our narrator finally lays with Ms. Leading, and the track starts very timid and shy, but slowly climaxes as the two remove the clothes and go under the sheets, and phases into a spacey guitar section to close. Not much longer after comes "Blood Of the Rose", which is about his discovery of Ms. Leading's profession. This track is a very sombre Spanish styled song that is filled with jealous-spiteful anger.

My favorite track on the album is "Red Hands", which definitely seems to be the hit of the album as it has more plays than any other track on Spotify. This song is the narrators true confrontation, and sending off of Ms. Leading after his discovery of her profession. This track speaks to the naivety and adolescence of the narrator, however the sentiment is no less genuine. "Because you can't be caught red handed if you're not red handed" is the repeated main lyric of the track, and with each delivery it sounds even more serrated and spiteful than the last. It sounds a bit silly because of how forward it is, but at the same time it's so genuine that all I can feel is empathy.

Most prog-heads are going to dismiss this track since it pretty much is a straight-up rocker with hardly any subtlety. The incredibly catchy chorus of this song will have anyone who doesn't run-away laughing at it's sincerity singing in repeat for days. And much of this album lends itself to this semi-poprock leaning as there are no blazing solos, disorienting rhythm changes, or stair case falling drum solos. However, this album is no less progressive for it. As I've mentioned previously, there is quite an amalgamation of styles here, and the fact that they're bundled up into such a nice rocker makes this album an excellent prog-gateway album. There is a tasty lick here and there, and a few sprinkled in atmospheric moments that could leave any budding musical taste thirsty for more.

As for me, I like to bring this with me on car rides and belt along with it. I get wrapped up into the folds of confusion, passion, euphoria, and betrayal that is weaved through each track, and always look forward to my next listen once its over.

Ray Stokes | 4/5 |

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