Since releasing their debut album “Something Quite Peculiar”, The Dear & Departed appear to have been watching too much Twilight or Dawson’s Creek. After the EP “Chapters”, they return with the same solid instrumental work, but it’s a little like they’ve been possessed by The Calling.
Of course, they’ve never exactly been hellraisers, but this latest effort shows a marked softening from their first album. Perhaps the warning signs were there with a song entitled “Tambourine Love” on “Chapters”.
On “Something Quite Peculiar”, there were songs that more clearly echoed self-professed influences such as The Cure. “Every Waking Moment”, however, is a very different proposition.
The die is cast from the outset with “One In A Million”, a song which seems to have been done a thousand times before. Track 2, “It’s Not What You Think”, is an improvement: its subject matter isn’t quite so obvious and it’s not as insipidly poppy.
Some songs are better than others, but overall this album is lacking in lyrical originality. The 80’s-esque riffs aren’t mind-blowing, but they are let down by the predictable, done-to-death lyrics.
If I hadn’t been reviewing this album, I have to say that I wouldn’t have given it a second listen. Despite that, after two or three listens, I found their songs firmly lodged in my head. If making catchy soft-rock songs was what they wanted to achieve, they have done just that. Yet they miss the distinctive vocals of Lifehouse’s Jason Wade or even The Calling’s aptly named Alex Band.
One track that stands out is ‘Landslide’. It has a slower tempo than anything that comes before it. More importantly though, the words leaving Dan Smith’s mouth are a lot more thoughtful than the lyrics on the rest of the album. Comparing the end of a relationship to a devastating landslide is a more sophisticated and interesting idea than I’d grown used to by this point. What’s more, I would say (without wanting to fall into a Dawson’s Creek cliché myself) it’s delivered in quite a haunting way.
For me, The Dear & Departed have taken a step in the wrong direction with this album. Their fans might think differently, but they should probably be careful that they don’t end up sharing fans with Bon Jovi…