Top positive review
27 people found this helpful
on October 16, 2012
I've been listening to Anberlin since the ripe old age of 13 after hearing "Paperthin Hymn". I fell in love immediately with the rest of Never Take Friendship Personal and when Cities came out a few years later, oh, it was love at first listen. Of course, nothing could've ever lived up to Cities, but I did find a few songs I thoroughly enjoyed on New Surrender. With Dark is the Way, Light is a Place, not a single song stood out to me. "Down" earned a spot in my playlist rotation for a few months and was eventually deleted. Musically an improvement over its predecessors, it felt lacking in the incredibly deep and poetic lyrics that drew me to Anberlin. For any other band, it would've been a fine album. I would've been impressed. THIS is Anberlin, though. I was disappointed because I knew that they could do better- they already HAD done better! It was the most disappointing sort of regression from a band I consider one of my favorites, despite not really even listening to the sort of music they make anymore.
This all being said, I expected to be disappointed by any new releases, believing the band to be on a downward spiral. I had no clue that Vital was coming out before going to iTunes to check out another new release. I couldn't really just scroll down without checking it out so I did... And I was not disappointed. Actually, I was the opposite of disappointed- I was thrilled.
If you're believing this to be Cities 2.0, you're wrong. Cities was a breathtaking album that I still consider to be in my top 5 of all-time, but this is something completely different- and breathtaking in it's own right. Vital seems to take the best elements from each of Anberlin's last releases (some of the guitarwork from Blueprints, the lyrical genius from NTFP, the darkness of Cities, the positivity of New Surrender and the musicality of Dark is the Way) and throw those things into an album that's really not at all like anything they've ever done.
Did I say career high? This, coming from such a passionate fan of Cities? Yes. Whether it will replace Cities as a personal favorite is still TBD, but in terms of the output, it is fantastic. I have no qualms with Vital- not one.
Oh wait, I take that back- one qualm. "Unstable" not technically on the album? IT'S A CRIME- I would go as far as to say this is probably one of the best tracks Anberlin has ever done. If you buy the album on here, make sure to hurry on over to iTunes and purchase the bonus track "Unstable" ASAP.
However, I'm not going to hold that against Anberlin. Not with a record that is this outstanding (but really, make sure to get that track).
Stand-out tracks: While you can argue that really all of these are quite excellent (especially compared to the last album), "Self-Starter" was a fantastic way to start off the album, much in the same way that "Godspeed" and "Disappear" drew you into "Cities" and "New Surrender" respectively. "Someone Anyone" is ridiculously catchy and makes good use of the electronic elements so prominent in this album while simultaneously being an excellent rock track (guitars are EXCELLENT) AND being lyrically one of the best tracks on the album. "Orpheum" was absolutely fabulous- I loved the piano and Stephen Christian's voice is particularly striking. And while "God, Drugs and Sex" didn't stack up to the epic finales of albums past (though really, longtime Anberlin fans, is any album closer going to ever stack up to (*Fin) or "Dance Dance Christa Paffgen? Didn't think so), it is still a lovely track and Stephen's voice is just incredible. Compared to the rest of the album, it seems really stripped down and instead of being out of place, it just works.
-But really, "Unstable" is the standout track, despite being the bonus track that you can't even get on Amazon. Just wow.
This album is the reason I was so disappointed with Dark is the Way, Light is a Place- because this is exactly what they're capable of. This is not the Anberlin I stumbled upon at age 13 and I'm so glad it's not. They have grown, changed and matured and released this incredible piece of art that is truly a career landmark for them.
So thanks, Anberlin- the money I spent on this album, the time I spent listening to it (and will spend listening to it as it stays on constant rotation through my music library), the money I will inevitably spend when you come back around on tour... All SO worth it.