Anthony Green, the heart-throb frontman of alternative and prog rock outfits like Saosin, Sound of Animals Fighting, and — most notably — Circa Survive, has released his second full length solo album Beautiful Things. Green once again teams up with folk rockers Good Old War to deliver fun and upbeat rock, with just a kiss of experimental elements. But does it stand up to the massive expectations of fans? Read on:
In 2008, Anthony Green released his first solo effort, Avalon. It was a collection of song Green had written in his time with all his previous bands, and showcased a much more subdued, singer/songwriter side to Green’s musical abilities. It was a decent, if disjointed, release.
The first thing that stands out about Beautiful Things is that, unlike the previous record, it feels like a cohesive album rather than collection of songs strung together. The mood of the songs ebb and flow, creating a better listening experience overall than Avalon had.
The music is exactly what you’d expect from both Anthony Green and Good Old War: vocally-charged melodies, whimsical and catchy choruses, deep lyrics, and interesting song writing. The songs aren’t quite hard or crazy enough to be on a Circa Survive record, but aren’t folky or quiet enough to be on a Good Old War record; It’s a happy medium of both bands’ styles. Of course, Green’s trademark high-pitched signing is here, and for fans of his other work they’ll be happy to hear him use the full breadth of that vocal range throughout the album. The production on Beautiful Things is bigger that that of Avalon, which had a stripped down and purely-acoustic feel to it. Here, the songs have more texture, and the guitar tones is more distorted. Still, like I said, the songs never quite the epic or grandiose sound of a Circa Survive record.
One problem Beautiful Things faces is that, in terms of new ideas, this album doesn’t do much to set it apart from other releases in the genre. It’s clear the album is fan service. That isn’t meant to be a bad thing — fans of both Circa Survive and Good Old War are treated to more music from their favorite musicians, this time in a style different from what they’re used to hearing. The problem here is new listeners; I’m not sure how much the album does in order to pull in people unfamiliar with the group’s musical past. However, I’m not sure that’s their goal, either.
While not being “different” enough is one thing, some of the tracks feel dull, especially when songs like “Get Yours While You Can” and “If I don’t Sing” set such a high standard in terms of song writing and catchy melodies. “Love you no matter what”, while lyrically a touching ode to a yet-to-be-born child, is really just a rather bland lullaby with boring ukulele plucking. This get worse when you consider the closing track “Lullaby” does everything the latter song was aimed at, only this time with (mostly) better results. That being said, the majority of the music here is good, and there are moments on the album that truly shine.
Anthony Green and Good Old War can certainly pool their resources to create good music. For fans, Beautiful Things will offer a great new album to tide us over until the next Circa Survive record this year, or while we wait for new music from the boys in Good Old War. It’s nothing ambitious, but it doesn’t need to be. I would happily recommend Beautiful Things to fellow fans of Anthony Green or Good Old War.
Best Tracks: Get Yours While You Can; If I Don’t Sing; Blood Song
For Fans of: Circa Survive, Sound of Animals Fighting, Good old War, City and Colour, Etc.
Oh, and check out the video for my personal favorite track on the album, “Get Yours While You Can”
Beautiful Things was released on Janurary 23, via Photofinish Records. You can get the album here.