Review Summary: Good intentions only get you so far...
There is something to be said for bringing spirituality and religion into music. At times, it can really kindle the artistic abilities of a musician or songwriter to try and connect with the listener. This is seen very easily in the works captured by Aaron Weiss of mewithoutYou, who uses his life experiences and struggles to convey an extremely relatable message to anyone, regardless of religious preference. Stop. U-turn. Religious themes can be a double-edged blade. The same spirituality that can create such thoughtful and moving art can also manufacture the most sterile, inorganic, and emotively unappealing music that seems to target a select captive audience.
, Minnesota’s contribution to the contemporary Christian-Rock scene. The disappointing this is, they fall victim to nearly every cliche that would warrant me to “pigeonhole” them. There isn’t really much to “Lights Out”; it is your run-of-the-mill Christian Rock album. From its generic riffs, to the asinine lyrics, it is exactly what you would expect, albeit from a genre with with an undeniably narrow community of listeners.
The album begins at its peak, “Hold On” begins with a relatively enjoyable guitar solo that sends the album forward, full steam ahead. As the most gratifying 15 seconds of the record end, the verse is introduced and you get a general idea for how this album is going to shape up. The vocals kick in, reminiscent of Redlight King’s frontman (that one band with that one “Bullet In My Hand” song). While the vocals aren’t horrible per-se, they are surely nothing special, and are quite annoying and even whiney throughout the duration of the album.
If there was any redeemable quality of the singing, it is nullified by the atrocious lyrics that lack even the slightest amount of ambiguity. Actually, a very hefty portion of the lyrics could easily be considered “worship songs”. From the blatantly inaccessible phrases like “With the angels I’m singing ‘Hold me, hold me, lord god, almighty”
, to the well intentioned, but horribly uncreative lines like ”Its my life, its my time. This world’s got nothing on me”
, there is practically no redeemable qualities within the lyrics, aside from the good intentions of course. In addition, if you are looking for a more progressive song structure, this is not your desired destination, as nearly all of the tracks follow the same verse-chorus arrangement.
At some point, music is music, and I had to look past the aggravating vocals and lyrics, and try to acknowledge every piece that plays a role within the record. That being said, the instrumentals are incredibly bland. Aside from the intro to the track “War”, there are essentially no standout moments as far as guitar or drums go (the bass is candidly inaudible throughout). However... the theoretical clouds begin to clear and the sun shines through the blue sky on to the one consistently pleasant aspect of the album, the production. The instruments all sound well-polished and natural. The drums sound organic, and the guitars have a very nice sheen that seldom overcomes the all-ecompassing generic feeling of the writing.
Altogether, if you’re a fan of contemporary Christian music, this should be right up your alley, but if you aren’t, tread lightly, for you won’t encounter much influence from anything outside of the style. “Lights Out” seems to just be a cog in the well-oiled machine of its genre.