After eight years apart, The Great Depression have returned and released their latest album, In A Starry State. The result is an ambitious piece of work that is both atmospheric and anthemic. There are shades of Coldplay-esque melodies over textured and layered guitars, piano and rhythms. There’s a cinematic quality to the music – which shouldn’t come as a surprise – as the album follows a science fiction narrative about a young girl in a parallel universe who goes on a quest for ancient wisdom.
Most of the songs on In A Starry State are mid-tempo numbers that rely on piano and synthesizers. This is big music, and the songs are arranged as such: choruses that soar and sweep. Each song is played with a grand gesture, designed in part to take the audience on a journey. Like many concept albums – the narrative is an after-thought – the music itself is designed as a journey for both the audience and the band.
In A Starry State is as its best when The Great Depression breaks free and lets loose a bit. The fast-paced “Hey Easy Go (Serpentine)” manages to rock while maintaining the album’s trade-mark atmospherics. With the album’s sci-fi narrative in place, it’s not hard to imagine this song as a musical trip across the stars. Meanwhile, “New Salem” contains a complex rhythm, and the double-tracked vocals create an eerie feeling.
As a listening experience, In A Starry State works the most when listened to as a full album. These aren’t songs that are meant to be listened to individually, but rather as a collective unit. In an era when the focus seems to be on one particular song, it’s nice to see bands who still feel the album as a vital piece of art.
Check out “Hey Easy Go (Serpentine)” below: