Anberlin's New Release Hits All The Right Notes
Posted September 03, 2010
By JJFrancesco_NRT, Staff Reviewer
Anberlin is one of those bands that continually produces quality music with every recording they make. They got the Midas touch in terms of musical skill. After four critically acclaimed and amazing musical releases, Anberlin is back with their 5th Studio release, intriguingly titled "Dark is the Way, Light is a Place."
Anberlin's major label debut, "New Surrender," has been getting a lot of flack in the light of these new tracks. For some reason, it's suddenly looked down upon, despite many fairly glowing reviews I remember reading about it when it was released. Maybe the new record is so good that it's made people forget that Anberlin's last release was very good too, even if this is better.
"Dark..." opens in what has becomes Anberlin's fashion, a dark and intense rocking opener. I actually think it is weaker than it's predecessors("Godspeed", "The Resistance"), but it's still a strong track overall. The album continues in the Anberlin tradition of the second track being a Pop/Rock track that screams the need for constant radio airplay. "Impossible" does justice to it's predecessors and makes a worthy first single.
However, don't let the first two songs define the album for you, they are my least favorites. "Take Me (As You Found Me)" follows next and it's a real gem of a track, even if it sounds very familiar, but I can't place where. "Closer" brings back the rock for what is ultimately an album highlight in a hauntingly intense and memorable hit. "You Belong Here" has "hit" written all over it. It seems the most likely of any song to be played for movie soundtracks and trailers for Romantic Comedies. It's definitely going to have it's dissenters, but it's good.
"Pray Tell" was a track first glimpsed via a cryptic sound check video on Youtube. The fully recorded version doesn't disappoint and finds Anberlin experimenting with a new sound. With catchy verses and one of the most memorable and soaring choruses of Anberlin's career, this track is one of the ones this album will definitely be remembered for.
"Art of War" is next and finds Anberlin again experimenting and sounding good doing it. It's another album highlight. "To The Wolves" harkens back to the days of "Never Take Friendship Personal" with a fierce rocking breakup song that also packs some "Cities" influence. "Down" is an acoustic number that has drawn comparisons to "The Unwinding Cable Car" from "Cities." The comparisons are not without merit but the peaceful and beautiful quiet track is not without it's own merits.
The album closes with the traditional Anberlin 'epic' track. Although shorter than any of the past 3 tracks, "Depraved" still packs the slow-building, intensely finishing punch that is needed to close out the album in dramatic fashion.
Lyrically, Anberlin delivers what is to be expected, dark and often cryptic poetic phrases to give listeners plenty to ponder on. While the painful break-up songs "Art of War" and "To The Wolves" don't leave much confusion, there is some lyrical meat to be pondered in "Pray Tell" and "Depraved" among others. "Pray Tell" even has a message that could be considered very religious. The lyrics are another high point of the album.
"Cities" is the album widely considered to be Anberlin's best. It's tough to say if this surpasses it. I tend to say that it just falls short, but not by much. However, that could change over time as I get to know these musical masterpieces better. Best release yet or not, this album is by far the album of the year and a must-have for your collection.
There's little not to like about this, save for the length which, at 10 tracks, is a tad on the short side. The various B-sides to collect from various promotions will help to lessen that blow I'm sure.
The album is a bit gloomy, and those who long for Anberlin rocking their face off with every track might be a bit disappointed. But this album is undoubtedly a piece of musical genius. Those left jaded by "New Surrender" have plenty of reason to come back and get to know this awesome band again. It may or may not surpass "Cities" but it's clearly the worthy follow-up to it that some felt "New Surrender" failed at being. It's a stunningly amazing album from start to finish, with not a drop of filler to be found anywhere. So sit back, put your feet up, and take in the latest from one of the most talented acts in the modern rock scene.
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