I’m sure you have heard about 5 Seconds of Summer’s new album, the new single by Ariana Grande, and are waiting patiently for the next Justin Bieber album. During all of that, Marianas Trench has yet again slipped under the radar with their fourth studio album Astoria. Josh Ramsay, Matt Webb, Mike Ayley, and Ian Casselman bring a mix of the decades with the deep baritone voices and harmonies of the 50s, the swinging beat of the 70s, and the modern sounds of today’s pop, combined with a little 80s soundboard mixing.
The album brings the listener through a 17-track storyline of an adventure of love, loss, and an end of a life chapter. The storyline theme is roped in their last two albums, Masterpiece Theatre and Ever After. In this album it seems to be an end of an era. They combined elements like the shortened instrumental sections connecting the major tracks like in Masterpiece Theatre, and lyrics that reflect songs from Ever After.
Ramsay as always, is on point and in “Burning up” he is all over the vocal scale with the backing of 80s sounds like drum machines, heavy synthesizers, and a nice electric guitar hook. The opening lyrics is full of metaphors that connect to the style of music that is heard throughout the album like “Been dead as a disco” or “Baby I’m new wave.” He continues to tie in other musical references, but to the lyrics of his own music, like in “Dearly Departed” where he takes song titles from his last two albums and ties them into an entire verse as a simple ukulele is strummed in the back ground with a light vocal harmony:
“Every masterpiece I’d write again
You’ll always be my porcelain
I crossed my heart
But I stuttered too
So truth or dare
Was I good to you
Haven’t had enough of you all to myself
Still right beside you
In sickness and health
For ever after
You will be my home
And there’s no place like home”
He brings back the Jackson 5 style in “Shut Up and Kiss Me” through lyrical repetition and iconic opening instrumental of a piano key swipe like in Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back”, which he mimics with strings. The emotion in Ramsay’s voice is full of energy, youth, and honesty as a chorus of singers lend in harmonies inspired by the original soul brothers of the Jacksons.
The way a Marianas Trench album can go from the life of the party to a basic acappella sound in perfect harmonies is talent you don’t hear in most albums today. Their lyrics make you think, question the past, question life, and question your choices that have brought you to your current life point. The last song in the album “End of An Era” brings a close to a chapter with a huge orchestra sound as the band of guitars and rock n’ roll drums fall into place at the close of the album. Marianas Trench ends a chapter on saying goodbye to something or someone and as the listener, I have said goodbye to a chapter in my life by starting a new in Los Angeles which has been less than easy. Sometimes you need to take a leap and hope you land on your feet, especially when you feel like you are standing still. So in the words of Marianas Trench:
“I’m so afraid of trying something new
Cause every start begins
With saying goodbye to you
Our heart divides an unrequited view
But my heart is overdue”
Check out their new album here!