Marianas Trench – Astoria (604 Records, Oct. 23)
Marianas Trench is known for albums that are equally thought-provoking and entertaining, and Astoria is no exception. The band combines upbeat tunes and heartfelt lyrics in their latest album, exploring themes of heartbreak and mortality with catchy, singalong hits.
Astoria is strongly influenced by 1980s pop culture, including its Goonies-inspired album title and cover art. Multiple songs on the album stand out with their retro sound: “Shut Up and Kiss Me” sounds like it could have been performed by The Jackson 5, and “Yesterday” is reminiscent of the Footloose soundtrack.
What makes this album interesting is its juxtaposition of bright, happy tunes and serious, often dark lyrics. Lead vocalist Josh Ramsay has stated that inspiration came from recent life events, including the breakup with his fiancée and his mother’s terminal illness. These themes are incorporated into each song, including the more upbeat ones. In this way, Marianas Trench successfully combines their iconic theatricality and playfulness with deeply personal self-expression.
To the pleasure of their fanbase, Marianas Trench incorporates throwbacks to older songs into their new material. In “Dearly Departed,” the lyrics in the bridge consist almost entirely of song titles from previous albums. While it does feel a little bit forced, it makes sense within the context of the song and sounds quite good.
The biggest flaw with this album is the five orchestral pieces meant to serve as transition pieces and add to the 1980s cinematic mood of the album. These tracks sound excellent on their own, like they came from an adventure film soundtrack. Their placement within the album, however, feels arbitrary and doesn’t add any sort of flow or transition. Compared to their previous album, Ever After, in which each song transitions seamlessly into the next, the flow in Astoria left something to be desired.
While not without its flaws, Astoria is a well-crafted album, and arguably Marianas Trench’s most thematically solid album to date.
– Amanda Cormier