The Silent Type – Of Writing/Of Violence

The Silent Type
Of Writing/Of Violence

The first Silent Type album, which I praised to no end, was a solo work by Nathan Altice, sprinkled with acoustic guitar, soft vocals, and some unique electronic flourishes to spice things up. Well, the project has come a long way since then. Now a six-piece band led by Altice and featuring violin, cello, and piano in addition to guitar, bass, and drums, The Silent Type’s latest release is quite different from that first album, but prepare to read me praise it to no end (well, this review will have an end, but my praise shall not).

The instrumentation on Of Writing/Of Violence is often lush and beautiful, and just as often it is wonderfully simple, as the moments of strings and instrumentation are contrasted by those of just voice and guitar. There’s a kind of melancholy texture to this music, giving it a rich sense of almost tangible feeling that truly is the standout feature here. But Altice’s soft voice and introspective lyrics still shine, just as much as when it was all his project. Only now he’s joined by bandmember Amber Blankenship on some songs and Denali vocalist Maura Davis.

Some of the album’s richer, more lush numbers bring to mind bands like The Potomac Accord or Jim Yoshii Pile-up. Like those bands The Silent Type mix moody strings and keys with rock instrumentation, and the vocals drift around the music as in the dark opener, “Kneel,” which is moody one moment and soaring the next. “Some Curious and Beautiful Maps” is quiet and rich, a deeply moody song that mixes male and female vocals as beautifully as the acoustic guitar and piano are mixed throughout the song. By contrast, “The Gift” almost explodes at times with a fantastic rhythm section that sends the song into crescendo after crescendo. It’s the guitar and strings that shine on the closing “Zeppelin,” a track with some nice, subtle effects that give the song a shimmering quality.

There’s so much variation here, beyond just those intricate and soaring songs. “Ink and Blood” is about as rocking as I’ve yet heard this band, and it still has a kind of quiet tone behind the upbeat guitars and drums, not to mention a kind of gentle guitar line. “Vacant Hotel Lobby” is much more quiet, just vocals and acoustic guitar with a slightly country feel, while the band uses what sounds like banjo as a flair to the strikingly powerful yet quiet “Oh John No.” The title track is acoustic as well, but it bears a more striking resemblance to the Good Life, with a kind of moody yet urgent intensity.

I’ve been on record as praising this band’s material before, and I had high expectations for Of Writing/Of Violence. Fortunately, this is one of those rare cases where all of my expectations were met. The music here is beautiful and has tremendous depth, and with a much more full-band sound, the result is lush and lovely instrumentation to match Altice’s soothing vocals. This album is extremely well produced, beautiful formed, lovingly packaged, and has enough variation to please everyone.