Anberlin’s new album falls short
February 22, 2007
After years of being a film and music critic, I have found that the easiest things to review are either amazing or f-in’ horrible. When something falls into either of those categories, it seems like you can’t stop talking about it. It’s incredibly more difficult to write about something that is mediocre.
I was really excited to hear more from Anberlin after I was first introduced to them via mixed tape, but their latest album “Cities” is just another CD that I will put on my iPod, only to skip over it when I shuffle through my songs.
Like most indie bands, Anberlin’s lyrical ability far surpasses the musical talent. For all my readers who are suckers for boys who play instruments and wear tight pants and chucks, “Inevitable” is a perfect song.
When I hear lead singer Stephen Christian’s breathy voice sing, “I want to be your last first kiss for all time,” even I start to daydream that he’s singing it to me while I stand in the front row and then our eyes lock.
But as much as I love to daydream about sexy, yet sensitive men, they can only hold my attention for so long (SO long) before I get sick of holding them when they cry. The same goes for their music—I just can’t listen to an entire album of desperate heartfelt fluff.
To the band’s credit, I think Cities is a misguided commercial attempt to break into a popular scene and make a quick buck before the next cool thing hits. All the songs are radio friendly—not too long or complicated and you can sing the chorus while still feeling “edgy” because, I guess (technically), Anberlin is still considered indie. The only problem is that Anberlin came too late.
This formula would have worked great a year or two ago, but pop radio is already congested and clogged by these groups that fell off the emo band wagon. Even “There is No Mathematics to Love and Loss,” which is one of the better songs on the album, couldn’t excite me. When I heard the synth mixed into the voice and guitar I thought to myself, ‘wow, I really liked this song ... when Panic! At the Disco did it.’
Each and every one of these ten songs tries to be its own single, as if Anberlin thinks the chances will be ten times better to finally reach a TRL level of success — and if that is really how one measures musical achievement, this band has an even bigger issue. But the immediate problems with Cities are obvious. All the hooks rhythms and lyrics sound the same because they’re all trying to sound good enough to be on “the top 8 at 8.” That will probably impress bigger record companies, but not me.
Listening to this whole album in one sitting is like listening to a 45-minute whine fest while getting your teeth cleaned and wearing wet socks — horrible yet tolerable.