Actor|Observer’s new album, Pareidolia, presents the listener with a defining wash of emotion. Through the release’s various elements, that vein of personal vulnerability holds the creation together. The vocals push on the listeners’ metaphorical hearts, with the singer surging time and time again.
Rather than monotone screams, frontman Greg Marquis walks the listener through repeated varying waves of emotion with his vocal work. His vocals are intense but accessible. His style, matching the words he’s actually singing, sounds at time like he’s begging for a solution to or bemoaning actual real life situations that we’re listening to unfold in real time. It’s truly, incredibly hard hitting.
The record’s generally thick and dynamic instrumentals back Marquis up incredibly effectively, in addition to offering their own unique way to view the emotional situations presented. The driving music conveys the same kind of emotion that Marquis communicates with his vocals, with more of an apparent focus on the (melodic) drive forward than on meandering on any particular sonic point.
Rather than hanging out with any particular musical or thematic concept for too long, Pareidolia swirls into some truly forceful sounding music that sounds like the musicians are pouring themselves out, and, if you jump in far enough, you as a listener will find yourself emotionally contorted and “poured out” too.
Throughout the whole record, there’s a striking drive forward, making the music rather inescapable feeling. The release can be either inviting or condemning; it depends, perhaps, on the listeners’ musical background and prior emotional states, and so on. Through it all, though, the record stands very solidly on its own. There’s a temptation to classify it as “screamo,” but that classification just doesn’t touch on the depth of Actor|Observer’s music, no matter how many exemplary “screamo” artists are out there.
The record sounds like a collection of bursts of energy collected throughout the course of a brief real-life period. Everything got collected and put into this album. Rather than a focus on anger, sadness, or any other specifically overwhelming emotion, Pareidolia’s focus feels more like intensity—all-encompassing intensity.