Review Summary: A musical love letter that is like a passing note, to a beautiful chord.
Sixpence None the Richer arose from the underground "Christian" rock scene in the mid 90's. It wasn't until their break-out hit single "Kiss Me" from their self-titled release found them success and notoriety amongst the masses in 1997. Riding off the massive wave left by their sudden mainstream hit, Matt, Leigh, and friends head into the studio to record their fourth full length, eventually released in 2002 as "Divine Discontent" to moderate success.
The production of "Divine Discontent" is very sterile and balanced throughout. A variety instruments build off of each other and work together cleanly. This is in contrast to 1995's "This Beautiful Mess", a very guitar centric album where Matt Slocum puts the rest of the band behind him. Slocum's songwriting is highlighted as the best it has ever been on "Divine Discontent". His acoustic/electric guitar and cello work give many of the songs their rich texture thus lending the album it's signature feel. Slocum's exemplary songwriting is best accompanied by the lovely voice of Leigh Nash. Nash's beautiful voice can be heard swooping freely through every track on the record in magnificent form with deliberate pacing. It's a voice that once you hear, you don't forget it. The track listing is flawless, and there is no filler. Every song is filled with meaning and belongs in it's given place.
Two singles spawned from this effort, including the songs "Breathe Your Name" and "Don't Dream It's Over", the latter being a cover song. "Breathe Your Name" is an upbeat anthem that has a lot going on. Instruments rapidly clash together in harmony with Nash's alluring voice to give the album it's perfect start. The song garnered much attention in the Christian music world at the time for it's openly spiritual lyrics. While many of the songs do in fact deal with spirituality, Nash finds a way to craft these interesting and emotional lyrics relating to her spirituality in a very charming and unique way throughout the album. The lyrics never cross into "preachy" territory, and are extremely personal in contrast. The cover song, "Don't Dream It's Over" is the most radio friendly song on the album. It's pop song with a ridiculously catchy chorus that will keep you coming back for multiple listens.
Tracks 2 and 3, "Tonight" and "Down and Out of Time" compliment the opener perfectly; they don't overshadow it. They're both accessible pop/rock songs that show off the albums great, occasionally intricate songwriting. Both songs boast powerful choruses and move the album along at a very solid pace. Track 7, "Melody of You" is a fan favorite. An acoustic guitar dances joyfully to brilliantly woven lyrics, and is soon greeted by other strings in time for the chorus. The next track, "Paralyzed", is very crushing and heavy in comparison. The organ featured gives the song a gloriously uneasy atmosphere.
The final three tracks will stir your emotions into musical ecstasy. The relatively slow paced "Dizzy" clocks in at six minutes and thirty-six seconds, the albums longest track. A pretty piano piece eventually evolves into a repetitive riff accompanied by a heavenly orchestra. The song "A Million Parachutes" is to many the best song on the album. It's truly the perfect send off and ties the album off as an unforgettable collection of songs.
"Divine Discontent" is cherished dearly by those that have heard it, and stands as a precious gift for those willing to listen. This recording is unarguably the band's best release, and it's unfortunate most people will only appreciate Sixpence because of their singles off of "Sixpence None the Richer" and not the entirety of this essential. The record remains the magnum opus of Sixpence None the Richer, and a shining gem of early 2000's alternative rock. It comes with my highest recommendation.