Review Summary: A vital listen.
New surrender and Dark is a way were two of Anberlin's weakest efforts yet. Feel Good Drag and Haight Street were ok, but overall those albums were a far cry from Unwiding Cable Car or (*Fin). That's why Vital is such a surprise. Anberlin is back on track after a few shady albums, and they are a better band because of it. This is their best album since Cities, because of how engaging each song is.
The album opens with Self-Starter, a furious opener that is relentless and never stops its assault. It's so heavy, and gots that rock and roll sound that is good because the harder a song is, the better. Little Tyrants is reminiscent of Godspeed, but it's better. it's hook is more catchier, and the track is better because of it. Yes, yes. Vital opens up with some great, great tracks.
But where does it go from there?
Stephen Christian's voice is better from DIAWLIAP, and it's more beautiful in a harmonic sense. When he cries, "Don't bite the hand that feeds you baby" on Type Three, it makes me tear up. The song is so tragic in its own way, evokes emotions of sadness. It's a little bland, but evokes so much emotion at the same time. The guitars are played really well too.
Ballads have never been Anberlin's strong suit. Intentions was only good for getting laid inside of the bedroom and getting the panties off. But not Innocents. No, Innocents is a tearjerker even more so then Type Three. It's got so much dripping emotion that makes me cry. And for a straight male, albums rarely make me cry. Only this, Aeroplane, Devil and God, Boxer, Hospice, For Emma and Lateralus have made me cry. And that is baffling.
Someone Anyone is a strong single. Catchy chorus and great hook equals boss song. But the album lags on Desires, which has strong verses but a weak chorus that rips off Video Kills the Radio Stars. And Intentions features a weak beat that is too electro for Anberlin, while Orpheum is pretty boring. Christian doesn't hit any right notes on this track, and the song lags for it.
But Vital is such a great album. Hooks pull you in, and the guitars draw you back out and in. This is Anberlin's best record since Cities, and it would be better if it didn't have the aforementioned songs. The best one is Modern Age, which has so much passion it strikes me with awe. Like this album too.
Vital is a vital listen.