The second self-titled album by Christie Front Drive, known colloquially as Stereo, is given the full reissue treatment by lovely label Magic Bullet Records. You get the classicist '90s emo sounds of Christie Front Drive remastered, as well as a DVD of the band's final show, from 1996. Not a bad package in all.
Originally released in 1997 on Caulfield Records, Christie Front Drive/Stereo contemplated delicately alongside that of Mineral, who had released The Power of Failing right around that time, and foreshadowed the anxious, melodic turn of Jimmy Eat World's Clarity that would blow the sound up to new proportions.
This album was stronger than the debut (also self-titled, a.k.a. Anthology), as the band was able to better explore their dynamics and sound a little more assertive in the process. The sound was largely the same, but it was a little bolder and more confident, even in the tenderly dusky delivery from vocalist/guitarist Eric Richter. He comes in at intermittent moments to punctuate the emotion a little harder, but the band often spiral through prolonged instrumental sections (there's three interlude tracks and an outro) that intertwine and carefully search for their own meaning.
"November" exhibits the first bout of serious tension that's been built, with mini-buildups that come just short of completely cathattic. Midway through is the darkest the band get, but it's actually an electronic interlude that sounds like something out of Wendy Carlos's book, but it goes back into the band's signature earnestness with the upward "Fin". Unofficial closer "Seven Day Candle" has some of the most affecting and memorable chords of the entire album, with a pulsing opening that almost rivals that riff in Mineral's "Gloria".
While it's appropriate and cool to limit a reissue's bonus content to stuff that revolves around the actual album itself, it's nice to have a set here that chronicles the band's discography a little wider. The show is shot completely on a VHS camcorder seemingly, so there's a very "home movie" feel here (some blips and cuts at points, even), with the audio certainly not perfect. The vocals aren't too clear and the overall sound feels a little muffled, but hey, this is what DIY was in 1996. The crowd is definitely more observant than involved (save one kid up front rockin' out all through) up until the last 20 minutes or so (everyone really wants bassist Kerry McDonald to take his shirt off), but I suppose that puts the viewer on the same relative level. In fact, the whole thing isn't always dynamic in many respects, from performance to color, but it's a nice watch–probably recommended more for the hardcore CFD fan. You do get a pretty heavy "Seven Day Candle", the rhythmic drive of "Fin" will grab a luller's attention, and the intensity of "Away" is welcomed. The sad meander of "Pipe" gets the closest to breaking your heart here, and not just because it's the last song the band plays.
Altogether, this brings Christie Front Drive into the modern sphere with grace and a few decent extras.