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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Anberlin -- Never Take Friendship Personal

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7/10

Man, things take right off on Anberlin's sophmore release, Never Take Friendship Personal. The opening track is full of power, and the production sheen that coated their debut straight into light-induced migraine territory is almost absent. Guitars are heavy, drums sound real and angry, and best of all, Stephen Christian's vocals are actually a little gritty at times to contrast the smoothness. Instead of taking the perilous quality dip their debut dove from track one to track two, "Paperthin Hymn" is even better than the opener, taking all it's best qualities and pushing them even further, with one of the strongest, heaviest vocal hooks Anberlin has ever featured:

And then, aw crud. The cheesiness starts. Track three is one big cheeseball. First off, the title of the song is "Stationary Stationery." Second, the first lyric is, "Do they not have pen or paper where you are?" Nooooo!!! The fourth track, "(the symphony of) blasé" looks like it's headed in the same direction, but it's thankfully a beautiful song, something Anberlin haven't done up to this point...but then, aw crud, here comes some cheese with "A Day Late." Still, at least it hits harder than the cheesy tracks on Blueprints for the Black Market. Plus, the next track is a nice, barely cheesy rocker, but then, aw crud, here is another cheesy one, but the track after rocks so hard they re-recorded on their 2008 major-label debut, and it reached #1 on the Billboard Alternative chart. The Never Friendship Personal version of "Feel Good Drag" rocks harder, though, and the song afterward rocks, too, even though the chorus smells a little like feet. The last track is great, with lots of twists and turns, and it's actually over four minutes long, a miracle for this band at this point. In fact, it rectifies my main complaint with Blueprints. The instruments actually get some room! Why they don't do this more often, I don't know. I do know that this album as a whole is a slight step up from the debut. The production is far closer to the band's live sound, and they actually do give the instruments some space at points. The problem is that the cheese isn't dialed back at all. There are way too many "doo-doo's" and "da-da's." If only they could follow this album with one without them...

2005 Tooth & Nail
1. Never Take Friendship Personal 3:31
2. Paperthin Hymn 3:15
3. Stationary Stationery 2:58
4. (the symphony of) blasé 4:21
5. A Day Late 3:25
6. The Runaways 3:20
7. Time & Confusion 3:23
8. The Feel Good Drag 3:25
9. Audrey, Start the Revolution! 3:22
10. A Heavy Hearted Work of Staggering Genius 1:12
11. dance, dance Christa Päffgen 7:06

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