Review Summary: Three-peat
From the very start, Anberlin seemed like one of those bands destined for big lights and even bigger stages. Their stadium sized emotional alt-rock was always a little bit deeper and more well rounded than the teenage aesthetics and cheeky attitudes of other scenester turned mainstream acts such as Taking Back Sunday and My Chemical Romance, making a Jimmy Eat World sized crossover on to the radio dials of America an inevitability. Their 2008 release New Surrender
took forever to get started, but when the single “Feel Good Drag”, a rerecorded number originally found on the group's album Never Take Friendship Personal
, hit the FM waves it catapulted the Floridian quintet to a level of national fame that only seemed right, although some of the band's mainstay fans took issue with the increased number of lighter, poppier tracks on the album, seeing the slight stylistic shift as a lack of depth.
Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place
not only is Anberlin's first album to be released and recorded with the pressure of creating a worthy follow up to New Surrender
's national buzz-album success, it's also a reactionary effort to answer the heckles that came from the internet peanut gallery. The result is a darker, more refined Anberlin. While, like every album to bear the Anberlin name, the main formula is relatively the same, Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place
sees the seemingly insipid side of the band that has always pockmarked their albums with songs like “Breathe”, “Breaking” and “Adelaide” put in the corner in favor of the arena sized ballads that always showcased the best of what the band has to offer, making it the spiritual kin of their 2007 release Cities
. Stephen Christian is, like always, at his best. His angelic croon gently cascades over the beautifully wound musical landscape that his been laid out for him, soaring over the anthemic power chord sing-a-longs and nudging itself into every nook and cranny of the more intimate moments of delay driven atmospherics. Surprisingly, it is these more atmospheric moments where Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place
finds its own voice in waves of Joshua Tree
era U2 pedal board infused grandiosity, that even the Edge himself would be proud of.
While Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place
isn't the album that will make long time fans of Anberlin still holding out for some sort of magnum opus from the band weak in the knees, it is the third straight near perfect album released by them, proving that when it comes to alternative rock at the start of this new decade, Anberlin is the cream at the top of the US radio-rock universe. Who knows where they'll go from here, but if they keep this level of creative consistency going, the sky is the limit.