Marianas Trench – Astoria


Album

Astoria

Label

Interscope Records/Cherrytree Records

Year

2015

Genre

For Fans Of

The Cab - Envy On The Coast

Summary

Pop and corny.

Rating

90 / 100

It’s reasonable to tag Marianas Trench as the most idiosyncratic band in the pop rock scene. Despite the fact that they still don’t have the following that they deserve, it’s a well-acknowledged expectation that you’re going to find a distinct difference between their offerings and an All Time Low record. ‘Astoria’ lives up to it.

Before you even have time to process it, the LP hits you with a riskily long opener. Its seven minutes span across a spacey build-up, eventually coloured with electronics and a bold band effort. This title track is Muse-y one minute and musical the next, part-ballad, part-Timberlake, like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is the only song structure informant Marianas Trench ever paid attention to. The influences on the album are potent but not plagiarised,  with the Jackson 5-esque ‘Shut Up And Kiss Me’ ending on a note of tribute: ‘don’t sound like Mike did/No but it’s all right for a white kid’.

Between its open and close, the record offers cheeky post-breakup songs (‘Burning Up’), radio-friendly speeders (‘This Means War’) and so, so catchy everything. It’s not all dance dance, however, as ‘Dearly Departed’ and its other frowning companions on ‘Astoria’ will have you know. The joy of its strums is contradicted by its tragic outpouring:  ‘we never sent the cards/they’re all still on the table/wanna throw them out/but I’m just not able’. We have Kleenex if you need some.

The farewell of ‘Astoria’ mirrors its beginning, as ‘The End of an Era’ gives the album closure, seemingly ending on a note of making peace. It sounds acapella, then like a videogame soundtrack, then pulls out some sass from its arsenal to lift it out of its gloom and doom. Ironically, despite its craftsmanship, it still sounds raw. That last point is predominantly due to Josh Ramsay’s unreal vocal delivery, which navigates him through his personal struggles to consolation.

Conclusion

The bullets in this album’s chamber comprise emotion and skill, which drive it through dramatic peaks and traumatic flatlines. Its sonic sincerity is one thing, but at its core, it’s also genuinely goddamn enjoyable. These guys really know how to write a hook, and one listen will imprint their catchy bangers into your mind. ‘Astoria’ is so good that you won’t mind.

Tracklisting

1. Astoria

2. Burning Up

3. Yesterday

4. One Love

5. August Burns Red

6. This Means War

7. Hospital Bells

8. Dearly Departed

9. Hollywood Renaissance

10. Shut Up and Kiss Me

11. Who Do You Love

12. Never Say Die

13. Wildfire

14. While We’re Young

15. Forget Me Not

16. And Straight on Til Morning

17. End of an Era

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