City and Colour, (the chosen recording moniker of Ontario's Dallas Green), is back with their fourth studio album. Following up on the success of 2011's Little Hell, City and Colour's provocatively titled The Hurry and the Harm is much anticipated, and not in vain.
Green recently left Alexisonfire, where he had been a guitarist and vocalist, to focus on his solo project, City and Colour. The additional time he has put towards these tracks is easily apparent, and this album brings a lot more variety than its predecessors. City and Colour is traditionally known for its moody, emotional, acoustic tones. However, tracks like “Commentators” are unexpectedly upbeat; it's a catchy, light-hearted, almost-pop song which really showcases the band's ability to grow.
This attempt to expand into new territory is embodied by the album's single, “Thirst”. Musically, this song utilizes organ, electric guitar, and a strong snare beat alongside Green's distinctive vocals to create a full, varied sound. Lyrically, the focus is similar to previous releases, but with a slightly more optimistic results; he sings of being “in the midst of the storm, searching for shelter,” but also of the wish for better things, and the hope that this brings. The net effect is that the track is still instantly recognizable as a City and Colour song, but is also new and interesting to established fans.
Fortunately, The Hurry and the Harm manages to integrate these hopeful, less folky songs without abandoning the trademark tone and depth, which fans have grown to love. Tracks like “Two Coins” and “Of Space and Time” maintain the soulfulness and lyrical strength that the band is known for. In fact, the inclusion of more upbeat tracks seems to strengthen the emotionality of other, more morose songs.
Overall, this album is very successful. Dallas Green embraces change and experimentation without losing the facets of his sound, which we have come to love. Fans will find exactly what they are looking for, and there is definite potential for The Hurry and the Harm to win over skeptics who may have written previous albums off as “just another emo band.” This is definitely worth listening to regardless of any previously held opinions about City and Colour.
Like the album? City and Colour is currently touring, with stops in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Manitoba, and British Columbia this summer. For show dates and more information, please visit http://www.cityandcolour.com/events
– Aaron Swanbergson