Canadian pop rock band Marianas Trench kicked off the beginning of March with the release of their fifth studio album, “Phantoms,” putting an end to the group’s four-year-long musical drought.
However, I’m of the opinion that it was well worth the wait.
Longtime fans may be pleased to discover that the signature sound Marianas Trench has curated over the years is definitely present in tracks like “Only the Lonely Survive” and “Echoes of You.” Both songs demonstrate the band’s love for a vibrant, climactic chorus; their proclivity for stacking harmonies on harmonies; and, their unabashed roots in early 2000s pop punk.
However, those hoping for more than just a healthy dose of nostalgia will be similarly satisfied to hear contemporary compositions are included as well, especially within mid-album track “Your Ghost.”
“Phantoms” also boasts excellent flow between songs, with no jarring changes in sound or mood to detract from the listening experience. Poppy upbeat numbers transition smoothly into more mid-tempo ballads, like the melancholic tunes “Don’t Miss Me?” and “Glimmer.”
The album’s best track by far, though, is its finale: “The Killing Kind.” Where other songs simply entertain, this symphonic rock number astonishes the listener with its unexpected theatricality.
Clocking in at 6 minutes and 46 seconds, it’s the longest song on the album, but I can promise it doesn’t drag. Instead, it builds upon itself beautifully, starting out with only bare-boned strings and vocals that layer and crest into a chorus that’s chilling in the best possible way. And just when you think it’s over, the music comes back fuller and more breathtaking than before.
From the final track alone, I’m convinced that this album was composed specifically with live performances in mind. Even when streaming it from my phone or laptop, I can so clearly picture the arenas, crowds, lights and atmosphere of concerts yet to come. Call it a gut-feeling, but I just know the Suspending Gravity Tour will be one for the books.
What truly cements “Phantoms” as a new favorite, though, is not the technicalities of its music, but the refreshing nature of its narrative.
From the album’s name, song titles and lyrics, one theme is reiterated time and time again: although others’ presence in our lives may be fleeting, their impact can be far from short-lived. And while this message easily lends itself to tired placations and well-intentioned advice to “simply move on,” that’s not the route for which “Phantoms” advocates.
Marianas Trench doesn’t caution you against leaning on past memories. Instead, they wallow in those emotions right alongside you for about 40 minutes. And rather than being told to forget, the listener is given permission to stew, absorb and evaluate: “Can we forgive and forget? Can we lay to rest? Can we catch a breath?”
Every replay of this album seems to yield another intricacy, and I find my appreciation for its artistry increasing by the hour. Marianas Trench has truly delivered a remarkable comeback, and I can only hope that several more follow in its wake.