Adventurism is Ford Pier’s fifth full-length, and listeners’ enjoyment of the album will likely be determined by their tolerance for the former D.O.A. member’s theatrical vocal delivery and schizophrenic songwriting. Although he utilizes typical rock band arrangements, Pier’s vocal style is more akin to a cabaret singer, incorporating spoken word and dramatic yelps and hollers into his eclectic, genre-bending songs. On “My New Bar,” he switches between tender crooning and ear-splitting shrieks, with the tempo and instrumentation varying accordingly (moving from a sparse keyboard ballad to an overdriven rocker). “So Many” is nearly eight minutes of dissonant guitar chords, punctuated by fractured drum fills and Pier’s operatic hollering.
With its wild shifts in tone, Adventurism is a challenging listen, and Pier’s seemingly unending supply of vocal energy means that the album never drags. Unfortunately, he lays on the quirkiness a little too thick; it’s hard not to groan during the hokey vocal inflections of “Things Happened to Me” or the synth squiggles of opener “Siege Perilous.” After wacky tunes such as these, the breezy southern rocker “Lethe” comes as a breath of fresh air, its sun-soaked organ and dazzling harmonies providing a much needed moment of prettiness. Of course, the song does include a brief atonal interlude, but this trick works well in moderation, providing a quick contrast before returning to the sunny groove of the verse. It’s enough to make you wish that Pier could tame his self-indulgent artistry more often and allow his songwriting to shine.