If you take a look at the title of Dear Reader’s second album Idealistic Animals and at the tracklisting you’d quite easily come to the conclusion that this album is heavily themed. Each song is named after an animal, with a sub-title in brackets. For example the first song is called FOX (Take Your Chances). This caught my attention immediately and had me anticipating my first listen a little more than I’d expected. I was a little concerned that it may become a metaphor heavy, difficult and unrewarding listen, however these clear themes aren’t at any point overpowering; it’d be fairer to say that it just gives you two ways to look at each song, which is a very interesting idea.
That opening track creates a powerful scene; Cheri MacNeil’s gentle
voice describes being awoken by loneliness, which leads to her looking
out a window at the night sky and the falling snow. She goes on to sing “this is the coming of the Lord,” but this is no praising hymn, she’s thinking about how “He’s not got to us yet”. It’s
worth noting that ‘Idealistic Animals’ was written following MacNeil’s
loss of faith after around twenty years of devotion to religion, saying
she “chose to believe that I was an important part of a saga with a happy ending. Now I am aware that there are no tidy conclusions”.
Once you’re aware of this, you begin to notice that the clear structure
of the track listing and the balanced nature of the songs are still
permeated by a sense of isolation and uncertainty – and, at times, fear.
The soothing plucked guitar that opens ‘MOLE (Mole)’ soon
drops back to the rise of the drums and the image of a lost mole making
friends by colliding in dim tunnels, chosen by God, is a dark one....
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