The Dear Hunter: All Is As All Should Be EP

Jordan Blum
Publicity photo via Bandcamp

Although All Is As All Should Be is a tad too brief to match its precursors, it's still a masterful blend of songwriting, arrangements, and singing that satisfies the Dear Hunter anticipation.

The Dear Hunter is undoubtedly one of the best—and consequently, most egregiously underappreciated—bands of the last decade or so. Aside from 2013's Migrant LP, every one of their major releases featured an ambitious hook; for example, 2011's The Color Spectrum presented nine EPs (consisting of four songs each) that individually represented a different sonic tone (in order: Black, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet, and White), whereas the five-part (so far) Act saga, with its genre-shifting arrangements, superlative songwriting, narrative complexity, and extraordinary conceptual continuity, is a cumulative work of genius, plain and simple.

The Dear Hunter

All Is As All Should Be

(Cave and Canary Goods)

Release Date: 1 Dec 2017

Unsurprisingly, this penchant continues on All Is As All Should Be, a six-track sequence born from the group's fanbase. Specifically—and as he explains in his Medium piece—mastermind Casey Crescenzo "reach[ed] out to six people [he] had known through the band for a long time—people [he] had the pleasure of coming to know beyond the context of a performance. They would pick a general musical vibe, as well as the lyrical theme—then, [the band] would write a song, and record it (instrumentally) in their home on an off day from tour." While its length and level of familiarity make All Is As All Should Be the least essential record in their catalog, that's really only a testament to how remarkable its predecessors are, as this 25-minute collection maintains everything that made their prior non-Act efforts so remarkable.

The disc kicks off with the raucous yet charming "The Right Wrong", a thrilling blend of intricate intensity and genuine self-reflection that's reminiscent of tracks like "A Night on the Town". Its sophisticated syncopation, hearty riffs, and multilayered outcries are especially captivating, as are Crescenzo's typically impeccable lead singing and plaintive lyrics ("Would I return to you / To the love I knew / Or would I have undone / All the good that gives misery meaning"). In contrast, "Blame Paradise" has an electric undercurrent and off-kilter rhythmic consistency that packs plenty of ominous serenity, while "Beyond the Pale" showcases one of Crescenzo's greatest artistic forms: the demonstrative acoustic ballad. Offering percussion that's both delicate and thunderous, as well as a few subtle keyboard flare-ups and angelic harmonies throughout, it's an arresting listen for sure.

The remaining trio of songs is equally strong, too. "Shake Me (Awake)", for instance, is as close as The Dear Hunter has ever come to capturing the uplifting and dreamy Motown/Beatles/Beach Boys-esque essence of '60s rock/pop (including plenty of rapturous vocal intersections). The penultimate "Witness Me", on the other hand, is far more somber and panicked, with sharp guitar chords oscillating around choral counterpoints, programmed textures, and feisty drumming. Once again, Crescenzo conveys foreboding and urgency with superlative grace and precision—matching his performances on gems like "Blood" and "Dear Ms. Leading"—and the concluding chant of "keep dreaming" is easily the most simplistically heartrending part of All Is As All Should Be. Like most Dear Hunter closers, the title track ends the EP on a note of touching profundity, with light instrumentation complementing Crescenzo's forceful realizations and reflections ("Is all that remains / The will to start again / Or Is there more retained / When another life begins?"). It's a tad quirky, a tad boisterous, a tad subdued, and wholly effective, gorgeous, and wise, leaving listeners entertained, moved, and quite impressed.

Although All Is As All Should Be is a tad too brief and expectable to match its precursors, it's still a masterful blend of songwriting, arrangements, and singing whose staggering diversity, density, and memorability satisfy the already astronomical Dear Hunter anticipation. As such—and like the rest of the band's discography—it also serves as a benchmark for how striving, meaningful, and fascinating modern music, in general, should be, proving once again why the Dear Hunter is truly a one-of-a-kind group that deserves as much acclamation as any of its peers.







A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.


The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.


Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.


Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.


HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.


Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.


Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.


'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.


'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.


Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.


DYLYN Dares to "Find Myself" by Facing Fears and Life's Dark Forces (premiere + interview)

Shifting gears from aspiring electropop princess to rock 'n' rule dream queen, Toronto's DYLYN is re-examining her life while searching for truth with a new song and a very scary-good music video.


JOBS Make Bizarre and Exhilarating Noise with 'endless birthdays'

Brooklyn experimental quartet JOBS don't have a conventional musical bone in their body, resulting in a thrilling, typically off-kilter new album, endless birthdays.


​Nnamdï' Creates a Lively Home for Himself in His Mind on 'BRAT'

Nnamdï's BRAT is a labyrinth detailing the insular journey of a young, eclectic DIY artist who takes on the weighty responsibility of reaching a point where he can do what he loves for a living.


Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few Play It Cool​

Austin's Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few perform sophisticatedly unsophisticated jazz/Americana that's perfect for these times


Eleanor Underhill Takes Us to the 'Land of the Living' (album stream)

Eleanor Underhill's Land of the Living is a diverse album drawing on folk, pop, R&B, and Americana. It's an emotionally powerful collection that inspires repeated listens.


How Hawkwind's First Voyage Helped Spearhead Space Rock 50 Years Ago

Hawkwind's 1970 debut opened the door to rock's collective sonic possibilities, something that connected them tenuously to punk, dance, metal, and noise.


Graphic Novel 'Cuisine Chinoise' Is a Feast for the Eyes and the Mind

Lush art and dark, cryptic fables permeate Zao Dao's stunning graphic novel, Cuisine Chinoise.


Alanis Morissette's 'Such Pretty Forks in the Road' Is a Quest for Validation

Alanis Morissette's Such Pretty Forks in the Road is an exposition of dolorous truths, revelatory in its unmasking of imperfection.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.