“Anberlin sucks because they are preachy God rock!”
Well, yes, Anberlin is a preachy God rock band. However, they really aren’t a bad band, by any measure, as their latest effort Cities proves. What we have here is a band ready to break through, without the catalyst to do so, much like Over It on 2005’s Silverstrand. These kids are ready to leave the pop-punk, indie pop, whatever they (or you) want to call it, and move on to bigger things, particularly arenas.
In Cities, Anberlin finds their way around pop-punk into straight-up modern rock, but not in a Nickelback sense. Rather, Anberlin takes the catchiness of their pop-punk peers, the melodies of sugary pop acts, and fuses them with rock reminiscent of, but certainly not parallel to, U2 and fellow Christ rock heroes, Switchfoot.
The opening punch of the single, “Godspeed,” finds Anberlin basically taking Taking Back Sunday’s sound by the balls, and making it their own. It’s really impressive, but then, it’s also most certainly the heaviest track on the album. They follow that up with two radio-pop-punk tracks, “Adelaide” and “A Whisper and a Clamour.” While these tracks are pretty by-the-numbers, they do prove one thing: Anberlin can out-do most of their peers with little effort.
Next, we have one of a few slower ballads, “The Unwinding Cable Car.” Probably the best of said ballads, “Cable Car” is sure to be found on many teenage girls’ MySpace pages, for, well, ages. Not that this is a bad thing, because it’s really a beautiful song. We get back to the core of the album now, with a handful of dark, energetic pop songs, including “Hello Alone,” which is proof that Anberlin could, and maybe should, be carrying arenas.
“Dismantle. Repair” is probably the best track on the entire disc, and should be the biggest radio hit this side of Fall Out Boy. Something is to be said for vocalist Stephen Christian, who just really shines on this track. The album closes with a fairly long, drawn out ballad, “*fin,” which, while it does contain pretty amazingly catchy lyrics, is pretty overblown.
I think when Tony Brummel signed a recent band, he said something like “these guys are kinetically radiant rock!” Well, maybe Tony’s band wasn’t, but Anberlin sure are on their way to pioneering that sound. Maybe it’s just the stellar production, but Anberlin’s Cities is just a really beautiful modern rock CD and if nothing else will stand as the best Tooth & Nail release this year.