Very rarely am i so awe-struck by an album that i have both an infinite amount of words to say about it and am utterly speechless at the same time. I'm thrilled to say that after experiencing "Astoria" by Marianas Trench, the extraordinary has happened again. "Astoria" is, what i believe to be, the phenomenal final chapter of an album trilogy beginning with "Masterpiece Theatre" and followed up by "Ever After”, and is even a loose link tying in to the band’s first release,“Fix Me”.
Inspired primarily by the music and cinema of the 80's (Goonies references are abound!),“Astoria” begins exactly how fans of the past two albums have grown to expect, with its epic title track that sets the stage for magic yet to come. To say that the opener lives up to the expectations of both“Masterpiece Theatre I” and “Ever After” would be an injustice to how incredible of a track “Astoria” really is.The rest of the album’s first half is primarily filled with more uptempo numbers like the joy inducing Jackson 5-esque “Shut Up And Kiss Me”, and one of my personal favorites, “This Means War”. “This Means War” would be the outcome if Michael Jackson had written “Life Is A Highway” and “Walking On Broken Glass” and injected it with the style from the “Bad” album. Yeah, it’s THAT good.
“One Love” (the album’s first official single) is an incredible ballad, fronted by yet another out of this world vocal performance by lead singer/songwriter, Josh Ramsay. But the power of “One Love”only echoes in comparison to what is the best (and easily most personal) ballad Ramsay has ever written, “Forget Me Not”. An achingly haunting song with a gorgeous chorus, “Forget Me Not” journeys through Ramsay’s struggle during his mother’s battle with dementia, and it’s easily one of the most powerful songs I’ve heard in my lifetime. “Astoria” is stacked from top to bottom with top caliber quality song like these, as well as others like the perfectly crafted “Wildfire” and the tribal “Who Do You Love”, which could easily be disguised as a hit for indie-pop band 'fun.'. In between the full length songs are also numerous "interludes", connecting every piece of the puzzle through to its conclusion.
“Astoria” effortlessly links itself to the past works of Marianas Trench primarily in two songs :“Dearly Departed”, and the closing track, “End Of An Era”. “Dearly Departed” is a ukulele based ballad where, in one of the cleverest and touching bridges ever, pays homage to the past two albums without feeling forced in the slightest. And where do i even begin with “End Of An Era”? It's a nearly 8 minute long emotional roller coster ride that i cannot speak highly enough of. In addition to building upon the themes heard throughout “Astoria”,“End Of An Era” brings back motifs and lyrical content from the band’s entire discography in a perfect vortex of soaring melodies and lush harmonies. The song really reaches it’s peak at the halfway mark, when the melodies from Ever After’s “Porcelain” fuse with lyrics spanning across nearly a decade of work to create an incredible feeling of both poignancy and beauty.
For a band to release three nearly perfect albums back to back is no easy accomplishment, yet somehow Marianas Trench accomplished that. “Astoria” is, simply put, brilliant. If you truly appreciate music in any way, you will find something to love about this album. It definitely seems as though the band is closing a door with this one, and where this all is leading, i’m not quite sure. All i can hope, is that Marianas Trench will continue to grace the world with their incredible music.