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ALBUM REVIEW: Marianas Trench // Astoria

by: Victoria Goodwin
Marianas Trench - Astoria

Marianas Trench has finally released their 4th studio album, after four years! In 2014 we might have gotten our hopes up when the band released the tracks titled “POP 101” and “Here’s To The Zeros”, but we were wrong. Confirmation from the band concluded that the two tracks would not be on the new album, but instead we would be gifted with 17 new songs to grace our playlists. Five of the 17 tracks are short interludes to the 1980’s movie that you are about to watch. With Josh Ramsay (vocals), Matt Webb (guitar), Mike Ayley (bass), and Ian Casselman (percussion) all playing lead roles in this wonderful performance, what more could you ask for? So grab a seat, turn off your cell phones, and come join Marianas Trench on another wonderful adventure – this time into modern day Astoria.

Astoria starts off with the self-titled song, including a long synthetic intro, which sets the mood for the entire album. With distinct drum and piano sounds, it definitely starts the album with the same Marianas Trench feel we’ve come to love, but with an extremely vintage execution, setting the mood for the entire album. Similar to their previous two albums, Masterpiece Theatre and Ever After, Astoria consists of five transition tracks bridging all of the other songs together composing the album in it’s entirety, “August Burns Red”, “Hospital Bells”, “Hollywood Renaissance”, “Never Say Die”, and “And Straight On Til Morning”.

“Burning Up” has a very distinct head bobbing, shoulder shaking beat to it. A beat that reminds me of “Kiss” by Prince and almost any of The 1975’s songs joining together to have a modern day 2015 mash up. “Yesterday” also has the sound of a track you would hear playing on a soundtrack that Prince shared with an 80’s movie. Later in the album, “Shut Up and Kiss Me” keeps that 1980’s essence alive with a huge influence but of what one can only assume to be The Jackson 5 with the final line of the song “Don’t sound like Mike did, no but it’s alright for a white kid.” The modern day 80’s mixed with pop and piano sounds strange, but with Marianas Trench, this execution seems flawless and effortless.

One Love” is the next track of the album, which shouldn’t be a new track to Trencher’s. This song was the first released from the album earlier last month and has gained amazing feedback from the fans, near and far. The song starts off to an almost a’capella Ramsay with a slight drum and piano in the background – enhancing the voice he has to offer. Ramsay’s voice is filled with true, raw passion, like this song truly hits a place close to home for him.

“This Means War” starts off with a figurative (or literal) conversation, “So nice to see you here, impolite would almost be beneath us.” Finishing this conversation, Ramsay explains how giving this person up (or vice versa) has made him realize that he misses the war between them – only to assume the sometimes very typical war in a relationship is on it’s final days. The chorus of “This Means War” is one of the more catchy tracks on this album and even has gotten stuck in my head while taking a quick break from listening to the album.

“Dearly Departed” started with the simplicity of a ukulele and Ramsay’s raw voice. “I don’t know how to mend it, but this chapter ended”, meaning one could only clearly assume there were many chapters he had read/written about that he didn’t know how to mend. Half way through the song he states, “To my Dearly Departed. Every master piece 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 my self / Still right beside you in sickness and in health/ Forever after you will be my home. There’s no place like home” – Which so happen to all be song titles from their previous release Ever After – or in this case, titles to the previous chapters that he doesn’t know how to mend or accept are over.

“Who Do You Love” has the typical Marianas Trench essence we’ve all fallen in love with once or twice before… or maybe three times. Starting off the track with the strong vocals of Ramsay and a few friends, similar to a church choir, you can tell this song has a lot of personal meaning. In recent interviews with Ramsay, he had mentioned that he had underwent an extreme whirlwind of a time with his musical career, health, and personal life, essentially bringing him into what he referred to as “total dark” for about six months. I think this song expresses his true realization of coming back to the lighter side of life and becoming hopeful of everything again. “From fable to fumble / from to stable to stumble, never more / I’ll say goodbye to my demons / and all my break evens, ever yours.” The lyrical genius, heavy drums, slow piano notes, and chill-worthy vocals of Ramsay, easily make this song one of my favorites of this album.

Wildfire” is the next track on the album, which may be another of my favorites. As soon as the band released the song last month, I was instantly hooked. In September of last year, Ramsay had stated he wanted this song (which was still in the works at the time) to be a metaphor for many different things – a metaphor so each listener may get a different interpretation of the meaning. This is something almost all songs do, but this was his main goal. With the chorus saying, “I thought this love would always burn like a wild fire,” is saying the love between these individuals would spread uncontrollably and flourish into something that was hard to put out. The song starts with “you say that you’re lost and need to find yourself / can’t do that with me but with somebody else.” Leading to The next stanza of “now you want me but what if your hearts a liar / cause if you change your mind again, I’ll burn like a wild fire,” still showing that he is willing to grow like a wild fire despite of everything that it is destroyed because of this metaphoric wildfire. The last metaphor of wildfire used in the song is when Ramsay sings “maybe our future is bright it burns like a wildfire,” giving once again, a different use of the metaphor – to me, showing that Ramsay is willing to look at the bright future of what he’s been through to hold on to the person he is with.

“While We’re Young” incorporates one of my favorite sounds from Marianas Trench, an orchestra. The numerous violins, along with the true powerhouse vocals from Ramsay is something all Trenchers can appreciate. “So sing it back if you’re with me / I want to hear how your heart speaks / While we’re young this should be the time of our lives,” sang hard in the chorus is gets the attention of the listeners. To me, it represents how, while they’re young, he wants to experience all they can because sometimes, “[we] both want it but love is not enough, you see.“

“Forget Me Not” is a beautiful piano ballad containing the slow melody of Ramsay’s voice and is a song about losing someone. In this sense, I don’t think the song is meant to be literal. “You’re not quite here but you’re not quite gone,” is his way of saying that they’re still there in person, but possibly not completely in mind. Ramsay’s lyrics portray the feeling of not forgetting one that you once loved, no matter the cost. This song is easily one of the most beautiful tracks on this album.

From the ups and down to highs and lows, “End of An Era” brings you back to where the beginning of the album picked you up. Ramsay wanted the closing track of the album to be a hopeful climax through the whole journey. While drawing on all of the elements of the album musically, bringing in the 1980’s synths, the “typical” Marianas Trench sound, and the infamous orchestra, this final track of Astoria was beautifully executed.

This album is surely going to tear you down and put you together by the end – in the greatest way possible. It’s hard to beat the vocal range and overall feel of Ever After, but after this album, I think Marianas Trench gave themselves a run for their money! I highly recommend this album to any new or old Trenchers and encourage all to go out, buy this album, and catch Marianas Trench on a tour near you!

Purchase Astoria on iTunes, here!

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