Blending the intensity of rock 'n' roll with the atmosphere of confessional, The Listening makes their debut with grit, sincerity and ambience. Mastered at Abbey Road in London by Chris Blair (Radiohead, Travis).
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The Listening| Posted March 19, 2008
No words can describe what I truly feel about this album...ok you got me. I wouldn't be writing a review if I didn't have SOME words. Forget everything you think you know about Christian music regardless of whether you enjoy it or hate it. These guys don't have any sort of cliche messages and though the lyrics do express their faith, they are far from preachy. Think more along the lines of Starflyer 59 I guess only not as far out there. The Listening sound like no other Christian band I know and chances are they are the best band you've never heard of. That's not to say they don't have influences because they do. I'd say the best way to describe their sound is a cross between Radiohead's somber nature (though no depressing feelings here thank goodness) and Porcupine Tree's atmosphere. That also means that yes, The Listening are progressive and one of the very few Christian entries into that genre. Seeing as that's one of my favorite genres this is like a match made in heaven. I can also say this is easily the most talented Christian band I've heard and the best in terms of producing a piece of art instead of an album of singles.
The album starts off very strong with the melodic 'Glory of the Feared' and the impressively atmospheric 'Triple Fascination'. The latter of which reminds me very much of Porcupine Tree and that's a very good thing in my case. They aren't as heavy as PT but just have that feel of a beautifully crafted sound produced to create a feeling unique to each song. I guess it's hard for me to put into words but if you've heard PT you'll likely know what I mean. There are many electronic beeps and boops laced in the songs that remind me of Kid A/Amnesiac era Radiohead, just not as overdone. By that I mean the guitars have a very strong presence and aren't completely forgotten as with those albums. Here the guitarist is amazing and aside from some extremely catchy riffs throughout the album there are also some well-placed blistering solos that add to the mood of the song. They don't overuse them or the other sounds which makes for a wonderfully crafted debut album. I mentioned before the somber mood and make no mistake, this music isn't depressing like their secular counterparts. It's not happy-go-lucky either since it deals with some serious issues but when its over you don't feel emotionally drained.
The vocals do remind me a bit of Thom Yorke and also Jason Martin from Starflyer 59 but they are not annoying or whiny by any means. Instead they are delivered clearly and strongly with melodic hooks to tie the listener in and keep the lyrics spinning in their head long after the album has stopped spinning. So are there any weak points, you ask? Not in the least. All the songs sound unique to each other aside from the vocals which are strong enough to begin with and the hooks keep them fresh. Most of the songs push the 5+ minute mark but not much beyond that and they never drag on or bog down the album as a whole. The track listing is perfect too with interludes used at the best times to break up the music. I suppose the only mark against this album is if they included the 3 tracks on the bonus CD to the original package it would've been even better. This band has a very bright future and I only hope they get to be heard by a lot more people. Go into it with an open mind and I guarantee you'll at least like it if not be very impressed.
Ok...so I had a lot of words...
Gems of this album are: 'Triple Fascination', 'The Factory', 'Hosea In C Minor', 'Are We Listening?' and the rest of the album.