Anberlin is an alternative-rock act that formed in 2002. They released their debut album, �Blueprints for the Black Market�, not too long after having signed to Tooth & Nail Records. The album sold moderately well peaking out at the 60,000 mark. In February of 2005, Anberlin then released their follow-up album, and focus of this review, �Never Take Friendship Personal�. The key feature to the album is Stephen Christian�s lyrics, and vocals. Without either of the two the whole album would be a complete failure. Stephen�s singing is smooth, catchy, and goes perfectly well with the intelligently written lyrics. The guitar parts are simple, but every once in a while an impressive solo pops up. Sadly, the bass parts are inaudible for the most part. However, every once in a while it can actually be heard, but is usually playing something incredibly simple. The drums provide solid beats, and the occasional fill, but nothing more.
The title-track, �Never Take Friendship Personal�
, is one of the more emotional songs, and features exciting guitar harmonization for the opening that is attractive. It is also contains some of the more in depth lyrics that I spoke of earlier. �Once a skeptic, now the critic, and you finally think you�ve found a place of your own amongst the cold, and timid souls, where only failure knows your name. Look around for the closest to blame, but look no further than the hands beneath your arms, and now you�re six feet down buried with your passing fame.� In the booklet under the title of the song it says in parenthesis, (You told me to �write a song about it� so here�s your song). This leads me to believe that someone who used to be a friend of Stephen betrayed him somehow, or they meet in a disagreement. This goes to show the passion that Anberlin puts into their writing of music, and lyrics.
Anberlin gets a lot of slack for supposedly being a Christian band despite the band themselves insisting they aren�t. Although it is easy to mistake they are a Christian band when their second single off the album, �Paperthin Hymn�
, contains the lyrics, �When life is in discord, �Praise ye the Lord��. In spite of that, �Paperthin Hymn�
is a great representation of the rest of the album because it�s catchy, and energetic. �A Day Late�
is the first single, but it�s not that great of a listen. While it contains the basic Anberlin sound, it seems somewhat generic, and boring. There is no depth to it, and is rather simple. �Never Take Friendship Personal� wouldn�t be an excellent album even with powerful lyrics, and singing if that was all it had to offer. �(the symphony of) blas�
is a slow, and beautiful ballad that is placed in an excellent spot to stave off any feelings of repetitiveness. �the Feel Good Drag�
is quite easily the heaviest song, and even feature a slow, yet breathtaking guitar solo. Stephen�s yelling packs so much power it makes this song the one to remember for all of the record. The final song isn�t necessarily different than most of �Never Take Friendship Personal�, but the fact that �dance, dance Christa Paffgen�
is over seven-minutes long is something worth mentioning when almost every other song is only three-minutes long.
�Never Take Friendship Personal� is an exhilarating ride. Most songs tend to sound the same, but there are plenty of others that branch out, and make themselves be heard, as well as remembered. Stephen�s singing never falters, and while he is very catchy, he manages to not sound nasal. True, the music is simple, but the structure that some songs are written in is impressive enough. This is an excellent alternative-rock album.