Review Summary: This debut album shows Anberlin still attempting to grasp a balance between youthful fun and more serious fare, but altogether is a fine album for many.
Anberlin is a band that is not easily categorized. Some people call them pop-punk, some just call them rock, some make up other stupid subgenres to try to describe them. The one thing most people agree on is that they do what they do better than most. On this albums more than future releases, the pop-punk aesthetic is much more evident and so is the feel and air of innocence. Blueprints For the Black Market
, their first release, is one that finds a band trying to find its footing while also laying down considerable groundwork for subsequent releases.
Stephen Christian, as always, shows why he is a force to be reckoned with behind the microphone, pouring true emotion into his songs. He has an ability to carry an entire song by himself. However, the songwriting is still on the juvenile side as a whole, most evident in the lyrics. The entire album feels like a high school summer anthem, with few exceptions. Those exceptions end up being the best songs on the album, “Glass For The Arson,” “Cadence,” and “Naïve Orleans”. Those exceptions also show where the band sets up for songs on future releases such as “Disappear” and “There is No Mathematics to Love and Loss”. “Glass For The Arson” is a hard-hitting song that shows Stephen Christian at his best and angriest. Thinking about it, every song absolutely hinges on Stephen Christian, because his vocal performances are thrown to the forefront on every song, and on most songs he succeeds, but a few songs falter.
The playful youth that is so evident on this album is something that does get a little trying after a spell. Anberlin have always had a problem with the one irritating playful song on every album, whether it is “Stationary” off Never Take Friendship Personal
or “Adelaide” off Cities
. The song “Foreign Language” is nothing if not mildly annoying, with nothing to offer the album. The “do-do-do-do’s” are something that infects your brain, but in the most irritating way. “Autobahn” is a fun song, but it also is one of the songs that can be skipped without losing much. Another throwaway track is the cover of The Cure’s “Love Song”, which, while not being a downright awful cover like 311’s, it is a completely unnecessary track. That being said, the youthfulness of “The Undeveloped Story” is played to absolute perfection, and is one of the best songs on the album.
All in all, this album is wonderful for times in summer, or general playful moods. If you are in too serious of a mood, listening to this album will just irritate the *** out of you. This album is the building blocks that Anberlin used to reach the high heights that they are at now. There are albums out there where there is not a care in the world, but few are done as well as Blueprints For The Black Market