When looking back on City and Colour’s discography, I found that I enjoyed his first album, Sometimes (and was a bit taken aback by the completely different direction from his main band, Alexisonfire), thought the follow up was a bit of a rehash and not as strong as the debut, and then just fell in love with the music of Little Hell. The Hurry and the Harm is a bit of déjà vu to Bring Me Your Love, as it is a a dip in quality when compared to the former. Mr. Green seems to be less conflicted and even a little optimistic in spots on his fourth album. Maybe he did indeed finally escape from his little Hell, but what is fortunate for him may be unfortunate for his listeners, as his songwriting seems to have suffered in return.
“Thirst,” “Two Coins,” and “Ladies and Gentlemen” are highlights here; “Thirst” being one of the more active songs (like “Fragile Bird” and “Weightless” from Little Hell) that just hooks the listener from beginning to end (as well as being one of the few songs with an electric guitar this time around), and “Ladies and Gentlemen” just shows Green doing what he does best, which is writing gorgeous acoustic ballads. While “Ladies and Gentlemen” is great, “Two Coins” one ups it and steals the show here. The song represents the cover, showing Green’s face represented in darkness and light, with its chorus: “I’ve always been dark/With light somewhere in the distance” which is surprising since he chose “The Hurry and the Harm” song title as the name of the album. Everything just comes together on “Two Coins” with the somber chord progression of the guitars, the flowing bass and drums, the well placed guitar solo, and Green’s incredible voice and well thought out lyrics tying it all together; it is one of C&C’s best songs to date.
When there is good, sometimes there is also bad, and unfortunately The Hurry and the Harm has its share of both. “The Golden State” (which is about his disinterest in California) is just entirely uninteresting from pretty much every aspect, and even his voice can’t save the song from plodding along at its ridiculously slow pace and long running time. The lyrics are commenting about why everyone keeps singing about California and how he doesn’t relate to it at all. It feels like a bit of a contradiction since he decided to write an entire song about the state (which is exactly what he is complaining about in the first place) and maybe would have come off better if he had just mentioned it in passing in another song or two and just cut “The Golden State” out entirely. “Take Care” also has its share of problems, but for once it’s actually Green himself that is holding back the song. The guitar arpeggios are actually quite nice and soothing and are accompanied by the occasional string part to give it a little more depth, but Green’s vocals seem a little phoned in as he croons about a friend that needs to better watch out for himself. “Paradise” has a similar issue on the verses, but the chorus comes in to save the day, while “Death Song” would be better if not for the repetitive chorus:
Singing my death song X3
This is my death song
That’s it; that’s the whole thing. There’s one verse and then this, over and over again. After a solid couple minutes of that, the song just fades out with the chorus chord progression and the “oh-oh-oh-oh” vocal line on repeat. We all know you have a beautiful voice, Dallas, but come on: You can give us a little more than that, either lyrically or instrumentally, to give this song (ironically about death) a little more life with its near 5 minute running time.
“Commentators” and “Harder than Stone” are both surprisingly bouncy and fun songs (even though the latter is still on the depressing side lyrically), which is definitely not the norm for Green, while “The Lonely Life” also has a very upbeat vibe coupled with a darker tone. It has a very rigid and stiff flow with the drums and bass on the verses that really drive the song along and then perfectly transition into the half time feel of the more free flowing choruses. It joins the ranks of a definitely front-loaded album, and “Ladies and Gentlemen” is the only thing that saves the last four songs from drowning themselves in a sea of near skip-able tracks.
Mr. Green’s light seems to be in a bit of an uprising over the dark parts of him and as they battle it out in The Hurry and the Harm, the results are a mixed bag of songs ranging from fantastic to passable, and I can’t help but wonder if it’s a bit too much to ask of him to let the darkness reign supreme for maybe just a little bit longer.
Release Date: June 4th, 2013
Tracklist for The Hurry And The Harm:
01. The Hurry and The Harm
02. Harder Than Stone
03. Of Space and Time
04. The Lonely Life
08. Two Coins
09. Take Care
10. Ladies and Gentlemen
11. The Golden State
12. Death’s Song
The Lonely Life
Ladies and Gentlemen