Posted May 25, 2008
Although I Wish we all could Win wasn’t a particularly impressive, one song really stuck out (“beautiful love”) leaving some optimism and anticipation about future Afters releases. After two and a half years the Afters are back with Never going Back to Ok a rock album making a statement that quickness isn’t important but quality.
The opening to Never going back to Ok is “secret parade” a short old style pop song which quickly establishes that this album isn’t all work and no play. The title track and number one hit single “Never going back to OK” is a quick up beat catchy rock tune, but for the rock genre it isn’t particularly impressive. “keeping me alive” is just catchy enough to remain from being a stale ballad that seem to rule most the album, the end of the bridge and into the chorus is a strong part in the song. While “tonight” is a pretty good up tempo rock tune it’s edgy, and “ocean” is another ballad that is solid. The fan favorite because of its catchy tune, “myspace girl” has a fun punk/pop melody that is infections and it’s surprising that such a song would be on the album but the surprise is welcome.
“We are sound” is a daring rock song that even has a little sprinkle of techno in the chorus. Among the many catchy medium rock tunes “falling into place” is a solid one, with the last line in the refrain giving it a nice feel. “Beautiful words” uses it’s emotional tune in places to get passed its average light rock music. The fast paced “forty two” is a pretty faced paced rock song which has the chorus strength of “falling into place”. The highlight of the album is “summer again” an almost purely piano ballad, that really is outstanding. The departing song “one moment away” is a light song but is lost among the other ballads and particularly” summer again”.
The music is very impressive, a huge step up from their debut, but to make this album perfect would be even solid lyrics, however that bit is a little harder to come by this time around. The first song doesn’t mean anything, nor should it, but “Never going back to okay” which has good lyrics never articulates what the problem was in the first place and God is absent in the reformation. Track eleven laments about a girl and yearns for “summer days again”, and “tonight” doesn’t progress past forgetting past failures and moving on (‘When tomorrow comes we're gonna feel alive’) the downside is God is virtually absent.
What seems like a clear worship song “keeping me alive” is only confusing at a close glance at the lyrics. With phrases like ‘It's like I've never lived/Before my life with you’, ‘I bleed if you bleed’, ‘I'll hold you near/Together, we'll never die’ it’s clear that it’s not about Christ but a mere love song. “Myspace girl” is intentionally silly, but what’s not as silly is the fact that even a song like “we are the sound” which seems to be a wakeup call to believers never gets specific. While the “falling into place” point to God, it too never gets explicit. The closest is “forty-two” which ends with a man going to God (never named though).
The band has come a ways from serving star bucks coffee and their New Artist of the year award at the Dove awards in 2006. Many of their songs are radio friendly so expect lots of hits before another album. What a little strange is for a rock band that there are so many ballads on Never going back to Ok, but that’s okay because most of them are pretty solid. Although the music s good and the lyrics have positive messages the lack of spiritual influence is a little disturbing.
Josh Havens said “we hope people judge our music by musical merit not on the faith beliefs we have. I don’t want people to pass up our music or other great music done by a Christian artist just because it’s in a section labeled faith.” Well if it’s worth compromising the lyrics than Never going back to Ok is a success because there is little difference between them and a positive mainstream release. The music is great but, to use the pun only once, the lyrics are only Ok.
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