If there’s any flaw with The Dear Hunter’s new release, it’s certainly not a lack of ambition. In the past year, principal songwriter Casey Crescenzo composed and recorded nine four-song EPs that make up the sprawling “The Color Spectrum.”
He will debut material from the box set live Friday in the opening show of the band’s first headlining U.S. tour at Bottom of the Hill in The City.
While conceptually a departure from the narrative in the band’s first three albums (“Act I-III”), “The Color Spectrum” further explores the myriad sonic territories of earlier releases. Each EP embraces a discrete style, based on Crescenzo’s interpretation of its namesake color. It’s an ambitious undertaking that could descend into pretension or mediocrity for less-capable musicians, but Crescenzo proves a successful chameleon.
“We, I think, wanted to be genuine with the different styles and were more inspired by genres than individual artists,” he says. “I think a lot of bands who want to do a specific style are very self-aware of who they’re trying to imitate and it just comes off as an awkward combination of retro sounds and modern production.”
Crescenzo manages his task well. “Black” is bleak and industrial, peppered with sleek electronics and dense percussion; “Green” is mostly acoustic, somber and folky with tasteful steel-guitar embellishment; “Yellow” evokes jangly early-’60s pop; and the closer, piano-driven “White” is euphoric and grandiose. A refreshing lack of filler and crisp production throughout the 36 tracks complement each genre while showcasing Crescenzo’s producing and arranging abilities beyond his 27 years.
“We’ll definitely honor the style of each disc [live], but it’s going to sound more like one band,” he says, describing the task of bringing the massive studio project to the stage with a new crop of multi-instrumentalists, most of whom didn’t take part in recording “The Color Spectrum.”
In the studio, musicians came and went as needed — a pattern that, with the exception of longtime drummer brother Nick, Crescenzo has employed since the inception of The Dear Hunter as a side project his previous band, The Receiving End of Sirens.
The erratic roster has not bothered him.
“I’ve had the luck of always being surrounded by incredible musicians,” he says. “Where other bands might have broken up, having different people come in and add their own flavor to old songs keeps things fresh.”
Crescenzo displays the same confident uncertainty about what’s next after the coming tour.
“The original plan was to finish Acts IV through VI before even starting on ‘The Color Spectrum,’” he says. “But now that I’ve completed this, I haven’t really thought beyond it. I kind of just want to relax.”
IF YOU GO
The Dear Hunter
Where: Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., San Francisco
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tickets: $13 to $15
Contact: (415) 621-4455, www.bottomofthehill.com