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Friday, August 05, 2011

Anberlin -- Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place

"I feel like we're on the brink of something... either world domination or destruction, but either way we're on the brink" -- Stephen Christian before the release of Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place

The worst thing about this quote is that after Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place, Anberlin are still on the brink. A few of the songs hit at possibilities loftier than the band ever seemed capable. Others are the absolute worst Anberlin have ever recorded.
Things start off promisingly. "We Owe This To Ourselves," starts with the driving rock sound Anberlin have perfected, but shifts into a moody, atmospheric passage in the middle that breaks new ground for the band. "Impossible" is a bread-and-butter Anberlin song that leads to the first cheesy ballad of the album, "Take Me (As You Found Me)," which is completely skippable. However, it leads directly into "Closer," one of the darkest sounding songs the band has released. The lyrics yearn for some type of connection, and the whole song gives the impression of crawling through the dirt to get it. The bridge is also one of the nicest the band has ever done. With an album title like Dark is the Way, you would expect songs like this.
Sadly, this is Anberlin, and what we get next with "You Belong Here" is the polar opposite, complete Mrs. Buttersworth with loads of artificial sweetener. I mean, the song was used for an American Idol commercial. How much worse can you get? The answer: worse. But how about another fake out?
The sixth track, "Pray Tell," is an awesome song. One of the best Anberlin have ever recorded, it fits with the tone the best tracks on this album possess, and the album title. The sound is adventurous, atypical of everyting Anberlin have ever done.

Again, the yearning desperation for connection resurfaces, and fits what it seems like the band wanted to originally attempt, but how is it supposed to be taken seriously when the previous song is one of utmost, saccharine devotion? There is not only no cohesion of themes, tone, or mood on Dark is the Way..., there isn't even a cohesion of quality. The next song, "Art of War," goes for the darker sentiments again, but how the HELL is the listener supposed to take the lyric, "You're the reason I'll never write another love song," seriously when half the time all Stephen Christian writes is (actually almost any expletive will do here, or any derogatory term that connotes my anger) love songs? How sloppy can your lyrical construction of themes get? That's like me making an album called I Love Cheeseburgers, then including a song with the lyric, "Meat is murder, and I never, ever eat it/meat is murder, Halo 3, how do I defeat it?" It's just stupid, and it makes me so mad that I almost don't notice, but STILL DO, that the next song, "To the Wolves," is the worst song Anberlin have ever recorded and contains the chorus, "Who needs enemies/when we've got friends like you?" Seriously, was that the best thing that he could come up with? Is he in a fifth grade poetry class? WHAT? Not "what the anything." Just "what."
"Down" comes out of nowhere, I don't know what the point of it is, and I wish I could break the stupid acoustic guitars Anberlin likes to pull out when it reaches this point in an album.
"Depraved" would work if it was actually earned, or if it came at the end of a four song E.P. that only included tracks 1,4,6, and 10. Instead it's like the explosion to a rocket never launched. It just blows up on the launchpad and does no damage, a perfect representation of this album that neither achieves world domination nor destroys Anberlin. It just makes you wonder why they put out music like this when they've proven that they can do better--even within this stinker of an album. The best I can say is, it got an emotional reaction out of me, though it is the last emotion I want to feel after I've invested 41-minutes of my life into something (multiplied by the ten times I listened for this review). Angry that I wasted my time, and even angrier that I know I will STILL buy their next album.

2010 Universal Republic
1. We Owe This to Ourselves 3:12
2. Impossible 4:03
3. Take Me (As You Found Me) 4:12
4. Closer 3:46
5. You Belong Here 4:22
6. Pray Tell 3:47
7. The Art of War 4:43
8. To the Wolves 3:31
9. Down 4:05
10. Depraved 5:24

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