Track By Track: Greta Van Fleet’s Anthem of the Peaceful Army

Greta Van Fleet“Age of Man”: This song starts Greta Van Fleet’s debut album off with a slow build before presenting listeners with one of their notable guitar riffs. The lyrics evoke a feeling of connection to the land we inhabit, commenting on our need to pay attention how we interact with that world—a theme woven throughout the album—and in their double EP From the Fires. This 6-minute song kicks off the album, but it feels like a necessary entrance into the underlying meaning of their debut album. 5/5  “The Cold Wind”: The album quickly shifts into a typical short rock song reminiscent of a time long gone. References to the times of settlers—when the world was simpler and less degraded by human interaction fill up their second song’s lyrics. However, the song seems to focus less on the lyrics and more on the musical elements. 4/5  “When the Curtain Falls”: Their lead single demonstrates the generic rock song that Greta Van Fleet still tries to put forth, despite their underlying care for more important topics of discussion throughout the rest of their album. I’m not saying it’s not a good song—because it is. But within the context of the album they have created, it seems to stand out more as an anomaly rather than a song that fits in seamlessly. 4/5  “Watching Over”: This track slows down the chaos of “When the Curtain Falls” and returns listeners to the overarching theme Greta Van Fleet tries to weave throughout their album as a whole—the environment and our subsequent treatment of the land we live in. Their care for the environment runs deep, clearly evoking their childhood growing up in Michigan. 4.5/5 “Lover, Leaver”: A fan favorite song with its lengthier counterpart “Lover Leaver (Taker Believer) closing out the album. “Lover Leaver” circles back to the lover that is simultaneously no good, but one cannot simply stay away from. This song departs from the environmental undertones of the album, but feels like a necessary inclusion based off of its cult following and heavier instrumentals which showcase their individual talents. 5/5 “You’re the One”: Every album has at least one—and this one is the one—the love song. Although it tries not to be the typical love song, it still brings something serene and lovely to the sometimes-hard riffs throughout the album. Personally, this is my favorite song on the album. As someone who has seen them play this live, it’s beautiful. Josh Kiszka’s voice shines through in this song—a separation from the screams he usually evokes in many of their other songs. 5/5 “The New Day”: This song feels like a downgrade from “You’re the One”. It’s another love song more focused on the duality of love and pain, but it doesn’t nearly hold up to the strength of “You’re the One”. However, Jake Kiszka’s guitar riff makes up for the less than creative song. 2.5/5 “Mountain of the Sun”: Their 8th song starts off very reminiscent to the guitar in The White Stripes “Catch Hell Blues” but this quickly turns away to reveal that Greta Van Fleet has brought us back to the nature symbols as a way to finish off the last love song on the album. It’s better than “The New Day” but still seems a little cheesy, especially the ending. However, the title gets points in my book for referencing the line “follow me down to the mountain of the sun” from their song “Talk on the Street”. 3/5 “Brave New World”: “Brave New World” calls back the deeper rock sound from the beginning of the album.  The brave new world analogy references this dystopian nature we risk having if we keep degrading the earth. This “world” is full of “acid rain”—something that both degrades our plane of existence, also provokes us to want to change our ways, urging us to “take one look at your skies”. 4.5/5 “Anthem”: Personally, the album should end with “Anthem”. It is the closest listeners get to a “title track” and it thematically represents the message that they have so ardently strived to weave into their debut album. It slowly ushers us into the final message that they want us to see—that we have the power of change. It is truly an anthem—not because of the lyrics that we can chant from our lungs at their concert or at a party—but because of the message that it strives to bring forward.  5/5 “Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer)”: This one feels out of place to end the album, as it is merely the lengthier version of Lover, Leaver. It seems more like a bonus track than a proper ending to the album that “Anthem” evokes. Greta Van Fleet are known for their extension of instrumentals in their concerts, often extending songs many minutes in length past their tracked version. I can see why they would feel the need to add this to the album as a way to pay homage to how they end their shows—in a blaze of Danny Wagner’s drumming glory via “Safari Song”, but in the overall tone of the album it seems like not the most fitting ending. 4/5  Overall: 4/5Final Thoughts: This album is something I both expected and didn’t expect from Greta Van Fleet’s debut album. If you’re looking for the heavy rock and roll sounds of “Highway Tune” and “Safari Song”, you may find some in “Lover Leaver” and “When the Curtain Falls”, but overall the album focuses more on a theme of the environment—with more slow-paced songs than I expected. It showcases a different side of their abilities as musicians and lyricists, which truly shines through in some of their longer songs like “Age of Man”, “You’re the One”, and “Anthem”. Give it a listen and see if you too want to join the peaceful army.Watch out for Greta Van Fleet’s Seattle return in January at the Paramount!Cheers,Alison Bentley