Here are some reviews of Anberlin’s album “Cities“…
REVIEW: “Cities” by Anberlin
“I just want exposure, It doesn’t matter how big or small. I’m not trying to make money off of this. I’m trying to save lives. I saw a nine-year-old who was pregnant, and a 10-year-old with a child. These girls are too young to even come to our shows, and they’re having children. I’d love to start a revolution so people are more conscious about the world around them and less about the little superficial bubble we’ve created.” *
Do the words of Anberlin front man Stephen Christian shake you up? Do they give you a chill? Take a listen to the band’s third full length album Cities, and you’ll see what he means. Everything’s not rosy in the world today and you’ll find that evident on Cities. This album definitely takes a much darker tone than in the bands previous efforts. Where as their older material dealt mostly with love and heartbreak, Cities takes stabs at society, religion, the rock and roll life style, their own fans, and even themselves. Accompanied by well executed soaring pop punk riffs, not to mention welcome acoustic guitar and synth touches, Cities shows if nothing else, undoubted musical and lyrical maturity for the group.
The opening song and first single “Godspeed” hits you hard. Fast and furious, the single sets the tone for what’s to come. “Adelaide”, the next track, has the same addictive effect as the worst narcotics out there; I found myself humming and singing it for weeks. The album overall rolls along beautifully from one song to the next, “The Unwinding Cable Car” is a stunning, acoustic filled, beauty of a song; with Christian’s powerful vocals driving out the chorus to such effect that it never really bothers that the song is actually a bit repetitive.
The final song on the album is the true chef d’oeuvre of this superb disc. (*Fin) as it is aptly titled, clocks in at over 8 minutes. Featuring hard hitting subject matter accompanied by Christian’s heart felt ranging vocal, a slow melody that busts at the seems about halfway through, and a climatic ending featuring a children’s choir singing the ardent lyrics, “patron saint/are we all lost like you?” while Christian continues to croon in the background. By the time the track comes to a close, you’ll realize that you’ve just heard one of the great emotional rock songs ever written.
As much as I’ve fallen in love with this perfectly produced, addictive record, Anberlin really doesn’t do anything overly ground breaking here. What they do is take an already created formula and master it. Sporting one of the great singer songwriters in modern rock today, we may be hard pressed to find a much better disc this year.
*Quote originally published in Chord Magazine
ANBERLIN – Cities
Record Label: Tooth & Nail Records
For every individual who listens to music, there is also that one “iffy” band. It could be a band that has released solid yet not spectacular albums, or has released a few great songs and a few mediocre songs; basically, it’s a band that has grabbed your attention but cannot seem to hold on to it. One band that has fit this description for me is Anberlin. Sure, their first two albums have some great tracks, but they also have contained tracks I could care less for. They’ve also been a band that couldn’t seem to figure what they wanted to sound like. Some tracks they would be very intense while other tracks were as poppy as can be. Because of this, Anberlin was a band that I was very lukewarm towards. Until I heard Cities. With their third album, the Florida quintet has shattered everything I used to think about the band. Produced by Aaron Sprinkle, Cities display a vast improvement in every aspect. The drums hit harder, the guitars sound tighter, and Stephen Christian’s vocals soar higher than every before. In other words, the overall sound of Anberlin is bigger than ever.
The first thing I immediately noticed was Nathan Young’s improved drumming. Whether it’s Sprinkle’s doing or just an improvement with age (or a combination of both), it is vastly better and adds so much to the overall sound of Anberlin. The musicianship from guitarist’s Joseph Milligan and Nathan Strayer and bassist Deon Rexroat is tighter than ever, adding more depth from what they played on 2005’s Never Take Friendship Personal. But most impressive of all is the improvement of Christian’s vocals. I don’t know how he did it, but his voice commands your full attention in each song, whether it’s his powerful or gentle delivery. When discussing the best voices in the scene, Stephen Christian HAS to be brought up. He is, in my opinion, the best singer currently in the scene.
Musically, the band eliminates almost all their pop sensibility while remaining immensely catchy. There aren’t any songs that’ll be so sugary that it’ll rot your teeth. Rather the album displays a moodier vibe throughout, as displayed in the “(Debut)” track. They also hit harder than ever before on the rip-roaring first single, “Godspeed,” as Young relentlessly pounds on the skins. The synth makes a few appearances on some tracks, adding another element to tracks like “Adelaide” (which is one of the catchiest choruses’ Anberlin has ever written) and “Reclusion,” an industrial rocker played at break-neck speed. “Hello Alone” features superb drumming again from Young and Milligan and Strayer guitars bring on an assault to your ears. “Alexithymia” begins slow and gentle, but the guitars on the outro needle in and out along with soothing background “ooohs.” “Dismantle Repair” is bound to be a fan favorite, as the band balances when to be loud and when to be quiet very well.
While a lot of the songs are high on adrenaline and are meant to played loud, there are still a handful of slower songs that Anberlin excel in. “The Unwinding Cable Car” is a beautiful track that shows how versatile Christian’s voice is, while “Inevitable” is the romantic ballad of the album, featuring the line “I want to be your last first kiss/for all time.” But the highlight of Cities comes in the form of the six and a half minute album closer, “(*Fin).” The acoustic guitar is mesmerizing as Christian calmly sings his passionate lyrics. But the song really reaches its peak when all the instruments kick in, along with a children’s choir, to give “Fin” an emphatic and epic ending. Not only is the best song Anberlin has written, but it is also one of the best songs you’ll hear in 2007.
To describe Cities as the maturation of Anberlin would be an incorrect assessment. They have always been mature; rather this is the progression of their sound. They have taken what they’ve produced on previous albums and taken it to the next level. Could this be the best album Tooth & Nail releases all year? Damn right, it could. Should major labels be knocking on Anberlin’s door after this release? Damn right, they should. Fans of the band will be knocked to the floor after hearing this, and Cities should be able to gain some new fans as well. It sure as hell converted me.
Here is my review….
Anberlin Rocks the Headphones with “Cities”
In 2003 I was first introduced to Anberlin through a music video. In this music video, “Ready Fuels”, a decent amount of editing was done in order to make the video visually appealing. Except for that video, I never saw or heard anything from Anberlin until this past summer when a very good friend of mine handed me Cities, Anberlin’s album from 2007.
I stuck it into my cd player on the drive home from his house and was blown away. The first single from the album, Godspeed, was my first experience in nearly five years. Released in late 2006, Godspeed shows both Anberlin’s instrumental unity and Christian’s vocals. Godspeed really sets the tone for the rest of the album. The second track, according to justpressplay.net has the “same addictive effect as the worst narcotics out there.” (http://www.justpressplay.net/music/anberlin/cities/review/). I personally could not help but listen to this song over and over again.
My favorite songs on Cities are not the upbeat guitar-heavy songs, but rather the more mellow, acoustically driven songs. The Unwinding Cable Car is, as Absolute Punk calls it, “a beautiful track that shows how versatile Christian’s voice is.” (http://absolutepunk.net/showthread.php?t=207865&highlight=Anberlin). I couldn’t agree more. Christians voice soars in a wonderful medley with simple lyrics “Don’t drop your arms/I’ve got your heart/With quiet words I’ll lead you on”.
(*Fin), an eight minute soft melody that truly allows Christians heartfelt vocals to shine through. Justpushplay.net refers to (*Fin) in this manner: “Featuring hard-hitting subject matter accompanied by Christian’s heart-felt ranging vocal, a slow melody that busts at the seems about halfway through, and a climatic ending featuring a children’s choir singing the ardent lyrics, ‘Patron saint/Are we all lost like you?’, while Christian continues to croon in the background. By the time the track comes to a close, you’ll realize that you’ve just heard one of the great emotional rock songs ever written.” (http://www.justpressplay.net/music/anberlin/cities/review/).
Absolute Punk agrees, stating: “Not only is it the best song Anberlin has written, but it is also one of the best songs you’ll hear in 2007.” (http://absolutepunk.net/showthread.php?t=207865&highlight=Anberlin).
Since that summer day, I have since acquired all of the other Anberlin albums. Hearing them from their start in 2002 (with Blueprints for the Black Market) to 2007 Cities, it is unfair to say that Cities is a maturation of Anberlin. Anberlin has always produced mature music. Cities, though, should be classified as a great step in progressing their sound. Regardless if you have heard Anberlin or not, I recommend that you check out Cities, an album justpressplay.net called one of the best of 2007.