Seconds. It took mere seconds, one second in fact, to fall in love with Marianas Trench’s new album, Phantoms. Love at first sound. Love at first note.
I’m not exaggerating. One second, one note. The very first note. And I’m done. Head over heels in love with this album. It is perfect harmony. A short, intro song. All in harmony. And a capella. I’ve mentioned before how much I love this band’s harmonies and that has not changed. They excel at this. I cannot get over them…
To have this album open like that… just… unnnggggghhh. Perfection.
This love affair continues throughout this album. There are elements that make Marianas Trench Marianas Trench and they are all here. Those harmonies. Unbelievable groovy rhythms, the drums (oh, the drums!). Punk ass screams, pop rock falsetto. The genre mashups. They are not one thing, Marianas Trench, not one sound, one genre, one style. They are music. They are theatre. They are big sound.
Big sound. This band is big sound. This album is big sound. An orchestra of sound. Like, an actual orchestra. So full. (Damn, I so desperately want to see Marianas Trench play live with an orchestra.) And produced so brilliantly. I love the production on this album. It is exquisite. Everything, everything is where it should be in this big sound.
Listening to the album is joy. There is a sadness to the lyrics, melancholy in some of the songs, a depth of emotion in the vocals that brings tears to my eyes. There is a theme of heartbreak and loss. But regardless the subject and emotion of the songs – sad, happy, loss, angst – there are moments, so many moments, where I just start grinning ear to ear because the vocals, the instrumentation, the production spark joy. My Beats headphones were made for this album. I can hear everything and it is magic:
The bridge in Echoes of You.
The heartbeat in Miss Me Too (this might be my favourite song on the album).
The backwards slide of notes in The Death Of Me.
Glimmer, a simpler song in soundscapes and grace in that simplicity. Heartstrings in place of string sections.
There is a reason this album is called Phantoms. Sure, many of the songs carry lyrics that refer to ghosts, phantoms, and hauntings, but the music itself is also haunting in places: vocals that are whispers like ghosts, instruments that raise chills down your spine. It is beautiful, sad, tales of loss, of darkness, of ghosts of relationships.
There are also threads of Poe. That breathtaking first note of the album is from the song Eleonora, which is also the name of a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. Some of the songs, including Eleonora and The Killing Kind, share words and imagery from Poe. Like The Raven’s “On a midnight dreary,” and “nevermore.” It is an intelligent album, this Phantoms.
One need only listen to the final song The Killing Kind to experience the intelligence and experimentation of Marianas Trench. This song is bloody genius. This song is Rock Opera, Pop Broadway perfection. This song has everything. Those harmonies. That falsetto. An operatic intro, a soft opening, soft vocals, minimal instruments, a slow pace that build in sound, urgency, complexity, and volume to a perfect storm of crescendo.
Lyrics of The Killing Kind are here and there grabbed from the other songs on the album, closing with those the album opened with, tying the themes together, circling the journey. This song gives me chills. It reminds me in many ways of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody – that experimental brilliant mash of genres and pace into this incredible rock opera. Chills, I tell you. Freakin chills.
This album is beauty. A haunting, gorgeous, thing of beauty. There is a reason I consider Marianas Trench one of the top Canadian bands and one of my Rock Gods. And it is this.