For Fans Of
Huge Anberlin fan right here! Loved their debut record and was absolutely flawed by the now classic Never Take Friendship Personal. Couple that with their energetic and uplifting live shows and there’s a hell of a lot to like about the band. Although their previous effort – Cities – had some great songs on it, I felt it was a patchy affair that didn’t have the same level of consistency as their earlier efforts. Unfortunately, New Surrender seems to suffer from the same problem. It still leaps and bounds ahead of what many bands (of this genre) are capable of, and yes, there are a few sure-fire hits, but the records more down-tempo moments detract from the overall enjoyment of what’s on offer from this incredibly talented band.
Album opener “The Resistance” is one of the best tracks Anberlin has penned to date, the bottom heavy guitars and heavy handed drumming combining to create a sound that is both punchy and memorable, while the ever-so charismatic Stephen Christian chimes in with his usual stellar vocal performance. Following on is “Breaking”; a song that lacks the grunt of its predecessor, which regrettably halts any momentum, the record was going to build in its early stages. Anberlin’s strengths (at least in my opinion) have always lain in their ability to write pop-songs with a powerful rock kick, and “Blame Me! Blame Me!” just doesn’t (for lack of a better term) have any balls.
Although “Retrace” still doesn’t pick up the energy levels it’s still a great song, one that shows Anberlin are more than capable of writing a gripping ballad, which makes the album’s weaker tracks even more frustrating. I was a little surprised to find “Feel Good Drag” had been re-recorded for inclusion on New Surrender, however the updated version does sit well in the album’s track listing.
“Disappear” signifies the first time that Anberlin have strung two high-energy songs together on New Surrender, the song in question possessing one of the most unforgettable choruses of the band’s career. Unfortunately the drive of the last two tracks doesn’t continue, as the stripped back “Breathe” brings everything to a sudden halt. I’m all for diverse records but I honestly feel Anberlin aren’t playing to their strengths in this instance.
Luckily “Burn Out Brighter” gets things back on track, it’s guitar-heavy riffs recalling the band’s earlier material, while “Younglife” has major motion picture soundtrack written all over it… which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just that the tune comes off as a little cheesy. “Haight Street” shows just how much of a capable guitarist Joseph Milligan is, while the closing combo of “Soft Skeletons” and “Miserabile Visu” go a long way towards making up for some of the album’s earlier inconsistencies.
It took a few listens, but I think I’m finally warming to New Surrender. As I mentioned, there are a few songs that I could have definitely done without, however there is seven or eight songs that are right up there with Anberlin’s best work. I look forward to hearing the new material when the band hits Australia again.
- The Resistance
- Blame Me! Blame Me!
- Feel Good Drag
- Burn Out Brighter (Northern Lights)
- Haight Street
- Soft Skeletons
- Miserabile Visu (Ex Malo Bonum)