Review Summary: Though it might not be a contender for album of the year, it is definitely a solid and highly enjoyable album from the Floridian quintet.
Usually, when a band gets signed to a major label, there is a lingering fear that the band will start churning out horribly overproduced, not to mention dumbed down and generic, music. Admittedly, there are a few glossy touch ups to be found on the album, but Anberlin has managed to steer clear of said trap and produce one of the most focused and solid albums to come out this year.
Anberlin hasn't exactly made huge strides in progression here, but they have made a few tweaks and small adjustments to their sound and the improvement definitely shines through. The songwriting is consistently solid and almost never dull, the vocal performance from Stephen is excellent, and the instrumental aspects are very solid, but never overwhelming. So, what sets this album apart from any other albums from similar bands? Simply put, there is a sense of sincerity in the music that Anberlin makes, which is something that has been all but forgotten in the modern music industry. In nearly every song, its abundantly clear that the entire band is giving a heartfelt performance.
Rather than every member of the band trying to write impressive parts for their respective instruments, which seems to be the focus of most current bands, the focus here is on the whole band writing impressive songs in a collective manner. Whereas in other albums in the genre, its easy to tell that a certain verse or chorus was written around a particular part that one member came up with, but its very difficult to do so here. Sure there are some guitar solos to be found, but they never get lost in the attempt to impress and merely stick to what fits the song as a whole in the best manner. The drums aren't approached in a technical manner either, though there are some interesting little fills thrown around to keep things interesting, and they focus more on holding the song together with somewhat simple, yet effective, beats. As for the touch ups mentioned previously, they are mostly used on the slower songs in the form of small string sections and choir arrangements, but the difference here is the fact that these things are only used when they really contribute to the mood and atmosphere of the song instead of just being there because they had to ability to use them.
The real stand out element hear is the vocal performance of Stephen Christian. His voice is fairly distinct and recognizable, and he posses great range in both pitch and volume. All that aside, there is a noticeable element of sincerity and emotion in his voice, and it adds tot he music immensely, especially in slower songs such as Miserabile Visu and Breathe. The faster and more aggressive songs, like Feel Good Drag and The Resistance, are also given a boost by the vocal performances. My only gripe is that the bass could be just a little bit more present, but seeing as how its rarely ever heard on any album anymore, most listeners probably won't notice.
This album isn't exactly revolutionary or groundbreaking, and though this might not be a contender for album of the year, it is definitely an extremely solid and highly enjoyable album from the Floridian quintet. The songs are all superbly written and the album never really drags or repeats itself. I guess what I'm trying to say is this...buy this album. I can almost guarantee you won't be disappointed.
I have yet to be disappointed by Anberlin and can't wait for this album. Good review, I definitely agree with your remarks on Stephen's singing. I can't imagine liking the band without him at the helm.
It was up for maybe five or so minutes before it got bumped to the bottom by that horribly inconsiderate individual who posted 4 Muse reviews at the same time actually its gone completely now...no fair haha
First paragraph feels like a sound off to me, don't know why.
Is that a bad thing? I thought first paragraphs where supposed to be more or less summations of the whole thing and then elaborate on the ideas presented?This Message Edited On 09.23.08
Its shorter than most (if not all) of my reviews, but I don't feel like this is an album you just go on for days about (without being tedious and redundant) like "this is awesome for this reason, and this is great for this reason" when all the songs are pretty much great for the same reasons. I thought I covered more than enough though :/ hahaThis Message Edited On 09.23.08
Listening to the new album right now. The first song definitely brings about comparisons to NTFP more than Cities (namely to "Paperthin Hymn"), and then there's that cover of "Feel Good Drag" from that album, as well. We'll see, though. I like "The Resistance," but I don't think that it's as powerful an opening track as "Godspeed" was.
I get what you guys are saying, though; solid music, but not groundbreaking. Might end up on my top albums list, though it would only be because it's a new Anberlin c.d. (as opposed to, say, "Viva La Vida," which is an amazing, out-of-nowhere hit for me).This Message Edited On 09.23.08
Anberlin are a great band, Cities is one of my favorite albums. I'm not gonna rate this til I listen to it a few more times, but after the first time through I'm guessing this will be a 4. Not as good as Cities but pretty awesome nonetheless.