Review Summary: It's a B-Sides album. Please read the rest of the review, but the term 'B-Side' speaks for itself here, I think.
Six months after their third album, Cities
, became one of the fastest-selling records in their label’s history, Florida rock outfit Anberlin announced in August their departure from Seattle indie label Tooth & Nail Records for the greener pastures of major labeldom and Universal Republic Records. Much like Rosie O’Donnell’s announcement of her lesbianism (if that’s a word), this news shouldn’t really have come as a big surprise to anyone. After all, Anberlin’s music is only slightly less accessible than internet porn, and in the press clippings surrounding Cities
, lead singer Stephen Christian would coyly answer questions regarding major labels with something along the lines of “Oh, well, we just love
Tooth & Nail and could never even think
about actually getting airplay on the radio and MTV, let alone receiving a bigger contract! But if the right offer came along…(shrugs shoulders)”
It should also come as no surprise that Tooth & Nail would try to wring out every last bit of usefulness they could from a departing flagship band and that leads us to the hastily put-together b-sides, covers, and rarities album, Lost Songs
, whose title is a bit of misnomer. No modern-day Howard Carter was needed to scavenge through recording studio garbage cans or pillage the guitarist’s house for undiscovered mp3s; most of the tracks on Lost Songs
have been readily available for any motivated person to download for free, some even (gasp!) legally. The acoustic version of “A Day Late” sits on the band’s Purevolume site freely downloadable, as are the tracks they recorded for AOL Sessions Under Cover – the difference being, at AOL there’s bonus video that accompanies each song and on Lost Songs
you only get the audio tracks. Also, you have to pay for the songs.
Going further down the line, Lost Songs
gleans three tracks from the special edition of Cities
, the iTunes “exclusive” b-side off of the digital “Godspeed” single (“The Haunting”), and the Christmas song the band recorded two years ago for Happy Christmas, Volume Four
(“Baby Please Come Home”). When it’s all said and done, what you’re basically getting for your fifteen dollars with Lost Songs
is a collection of tracks that, if you truly cared and/or have a reasonably fast connection to the internets, could have been yours for free a long time ago. Unless you hate the hassle of roaming through Spanish blogs for your music or despise the heathen practice of file-sharing, chances are you won’t be needing the physical copy of this album.
As for the music itself, there’s nothing too surprising here, save for an amusing hidden track of the Mario Bros. covering “Glass to the Arson.” The covers fare the worst, if only because covers are – let’s face it – usually a colossal waste of time. Sure, Anberlin’s rendition of When In Rome’s “The Promise” may give you fond flashbacks to Napoleon Dynamite
, but did the world really need a pop-punk version of “Like a Rolling Stone”? Other covers of Depeche Mode, The Smiths, and Radiohead also fall flat. Diehard fans of the band will probably be interested in hearing the rough demo versions of “Readyfuels,” “Driving (Autobahn),” and the previously unreleased “Everywhere and in Between,” but, in a bit of a shocker, the studio versions of those songs are better.
However, the same cannot be said of the acoustic versions of “A Day Late” and “Naïve Orleans,” which fare much better without the super-sugary production attached to the originals. It’s those tracks along with the poppy Never Take Friendship Personal
b-side “Downtown Song” that prove to be the best you can take away from Lost Songs
. The Cities
b-side “Uncanny” is a solid addition to the Anberlin catalog and the other acoustics are pleasant enough, but would they be good enough for a studio album? That’s not the point, of course, of a song on a stopgap record (where quantity > quality), but those looking for a proper introduction to Anberlin would definitely do better to seek out the originals.
So, to sum up: purchasing this album for an amount larger than, let’s say, six or seven dollars officially makes you a sucker and below average at life. Anberlin fans will want to check this out, but the diehards have probably already heard most of the songs on here anyway and will probably download the ones they haven’t. When Underoath leaves in 2009, Tooth & Nail, you should probably go with a live DVD.
A Day Late (acoustic)
Naïve Orleans (acoustic)