Don't get the wrong idea about the title of this record - it is great; but it strikes me as a record of disillusionment. Take lines such as, "we spent our years dreaming, but our dreams were misleading, and now we're through..." and "your happy home is never found..." Yet it's as if the depression depicted isn't the kind which makes you howl with dejection, but the kind which just numbs you; incapable of happiness, but also incapable of profound sadness - stuck in limbo. There's a lot of piano (which is kind of a personal limbo for me), but mostly to good effect, and a beautiful use of strings. Sometimes the album feels a bit too dry, but fear not - its epic stature is secured by the time the last track fades out.
The Great Eastern is an intriguing blend of inventive, experimental, innovatively panned, trip-hoppy sounds and seasoned, melancholy, Seventies-era folky songwriting. My favourite is the phenomenal "No Danger," which may just be the song of the year. Then again, I tend to prefer more rocking tunes, so I'm especially a sucker for the punch delivered by "American Trilogy" and "Thirteen Gliding Principles." I don't know to what extent the band was affected by recording this in the U.S., or how much Dave Fridmann's production is responsible, but there is a certain "Apocalypse Now" sort of feeling to the whole thing, yet it's simultaneously super-modern... Just call it great.