Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Review: Anberlin - New Surrender (* * 1/2)

Anberlin has been something of a guilty pleasure for me over the last few years. Their sophomore album Never Take Friendship Personal and last year's Cities didn't exactly revolutionize music or expand my horizons, but they provided a healthy dose of singable melodies and catchy songwriting that stood out from a host of other pop/rock/punk albums. There is something about the band's balance of thunderous cries for rebellion and strings-laced songs of love and loss that gets me.

Either Anberlin are running out of new ideas, or I'm just losing interest in the band altogether. I think it's probably both. New Surrender is not a bad album, it just doesn't cover much territory that Anberlin hasn't been all over previously. The sound is slightly bigger, bolder, and more arena-ready this time around, but essentially the album plays like Cities, with a similar mix of ballads and anthems using familiar subject matter. The real shame, though, is "Feel Good Drag," a song lifted directly from Never Take Friendship Personal and tweaked just slightly. An unnecessary revisiting of a decent song that now lacks the same punch of the original.

If I listen to the album with a less critical ear, I find myself reminded of why I liked the band so much in the first place. The opening three tracks are exciting and catchy, and the triumphant choruses of "Burn Out Brighter (Northern Lights)" and "Haight St." showcase Stephen Christian's (how's that for the name of a CCM singer?) impressive vocal abilities, but too often I find myself unsatisfied. I guess I knew from the beginning that the relationship might not last, that this was only a fling. Thanks for the memories, Anberlin, but we both need to start seeing other people.

Favorite Tracks: "The Resistance," "Breaking," "Burn Out Brighter (Northern Lights)"

Listen to the album this week at AOL Music.


Anonymous said...

Man, I love this band. I really hope they stop at a Denny's near me on this tour for one of those afterparties - www.dennysallnighter.com