I've been a fairly big fan of Poets of the Fall for quite a number of years now. I'm one of the many people who discovered them through their association with game developer Remedy, who used a number of their songs across the Max Payne and Alan Wake franchises. While my love affair with Remedy has waxed, my love for Poets of the Fall has yet to wane.
Clearview is the seventh studio album from the Helsinki-based group. The good news is there isn't a duff track in the bunch. The bad news is that something has gone a little strange in the mixing of the album. It should be noted that this is the first time in the band's 13 year career that they opted to work with an outside producer -- Stefan Boman, who is acting producer for Swedish rock band Kent -- and so I wonder if that might have something to do with the different sound.
Prior to writing this review, I listened to the album a couple of times through. None of the tracks jump out at me like "Late Goodbye", "Psychosis", "Locking Up the Sun", "Carnival of Rust", "War", or "Choice Millionaire" did on the previous albums, but there's not a bad track in the lot. I never found myself reaching for the skip button, it's an enjoyable listening experience from beginning to end. My early favorite is probably "The Child in Me". It's the most unique sounding track on the album.
The real problem, as I suggested above, is the mixing. I've gone back and listened to some selected tracks from Signs of Life, Revolution Roulette, Twilight Theater, and Jealous Gods. There's no denying it: whoever mixed Clearview seems bound and determined to bury Marko's lyrics at the bottom of the musical equivalent of the Mariana Trench. Jani's bass work is also drowning in the mix.
This is a real shame, because there's a whole lot to love about Clearview. I really wish I didn't feel like I needed a lyrics sheet to make out at least 1/3 of the lyrics. But on the plus side the album hasn't completely fallen victim to The Loudness War, as there's very little in the way of unpleasant clipping or artificial boosting. It's just that the mixers decided to apply an oddly "flat" effect on the overall soundscape. Nothing pops, least of all Marko's lyrics.
If you're a fan of POTF's previous albums, definitely give Clearview a listen. Just maybe bring a lyrics sheet along.