Band: The Choir
Title: The Loudest Sound Ever Heard
Release Date: 05/15/12
Reviewer: Josh Hamm
- Strange Girl
- Learning to FLy
- Cross that River
- Laughter of Heaven
- O How
- The Forest
- Takin’ the Universe In
- A World Away
- After All (Featuring Leigh Nash)
The title is deceiving: this is most definitely not the loudest sound you will ever hear. Not even close. So it’s a good thing that The Choir meant it thematically, not literally. The title refers to a large volcanic explosion in 19th century Indonesia, as referenced in the song “I’m Learning to Fly”. Drummer and lyricist Steve Hindalong wanted the album to reflect how catastrophes remind us to live our lives to the fullest and seize the day. It’s a solid concept, and works well to loosely bind the songs.
The Choir has been making music together for almost 30 years, and it shows. The song writing and musicianship is tight and sounds natural and fitting. It is a shame though, that the album never really takes off.
It’s very hard not to like the album: their atmospheric sound has a comforting, cheery, and poppy feel to it which makes it very easy listening. The problem is that while every song is solid, there are none which truly take the album to the next level. The vocals and guitars deliver on light, ethereal songs, but don’t do justice to songs which could have benefited from darker or heavier sounds to set them apart. One such song is “A World Away,” which is a highlight on the album, mostly due to the lyrics. Overall, the lyrics on the album are mostly average, but occasionally there are gems of phrasing which are truly evocative and thought provoking. On this song for instance, lyrics such as “Gilded kingdoms are illusion/To be forgiven is to know divine love/Proud religion is delusion” are striking, and even more so as the chorus sings “I’m a sad, far cry from a man who never lies/ But I’ll hold the lantern high for you.” However, the cheery vocals and guitars undermine what could have held much more impact.
Other highlights on the album include “I’m Learning to Fly,” which features great lyrics and fitting music, as well as “After All,” a duet with Leigh Nash of Sixpence None the Richer. These are very well done songs, atmospheric rock done right, but they still can’t carry the album on their backs. The main problem is that while most songs have a strong point, where I would listen and think “Hey, this is actually quite a good song,” such as on “Laughter of Heaven,” which features an opening saxophone, catchy effects driven guitar, and thoughtful lyrics, it ultimately becomes redundant and boring to listen through the entire song.
Overall: This is not a great album or a poor album. It’s just good. The Choir definitely know what they’re doing, crafting a slew of decent songs, but it might have worked better if they just kept the stronger ones as an EP. It’s great easy listening music and hard not to like, but it’s not an album that you will find on repeat or listening to for its own sake, it’s better as background music, except for a couple songs. If you’re a fan of atmospheric rock, you should give this a try; you’ll find something you like, even if you don’t love the album as a whole.
RIYL: Derri Daughtery, City on a Hill, The Prayer Chain, The Violet Burning