18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
EartotheGround Music review,
This review is from: The Reckoning (MP3 Music)
This is the review we posted at eartothegroundmusic.com:
After 2 years, a tour with Taylor Swift, and right before embarking on another tour (with Matthew Mayfield and one date with Clarensau), NeedToBreathe has released its fourth studio album, "The Reckoning". Fans waited for two years, but they will not be disappointed with this effort. "The Reckoning" marks a high water mark for the band and maybe for rock this year. It really is that good.
Here's what you need to know: NeedToBreathe rocks. Its not simple rock music though. Its smooth, its clean, it sounds fresh and it sounds great. This album is so complete, with 14 tracks, that the fact that we waited for 2 years seems like no big deal. There is no filler on this album and that is a phenomenal thing. This is the band's 3rd straight 14 track album, which is something that never happens anymore. Its unfortunate that I have to taut that as a high point, but it's a huge album filled with huge sound. The instrumentation is superb and the album sounds like they took those two years, made it sound tighter, made it sound like they had grown, and made music that you can feel more than their other albums, which is hard to do.
The only complaint (I only have 1 minor complaint) is that this album sounds too big for an mp3 player or computer. It practically begs to be heard in an arena. I've seen Coldplay live and their sound can fill an arena, but when you listen to the album, you don't feel like it needs to be heard there. It's contained and fits perfectly on an ipod or speakers by your bed. "The Reckoning" makes Coldplay sound like they should be playing at coffee shops. (I love Coldplay, not bashing them.) This album, according to Entertainment Weekly, is "are as informed by Kings of Leon's arena muscle as they are by porch-pickin' country." This may have been true before "The Reckoning" but no longer; its a stadium rock album.
"The Reckoning" begins with the line: "Take us back to a simpler time." "Oohs and Aahs" kicks off the album in the same way "The Outsiders" did on the previous album. It sets the tone with a sound that builds, but this album begins with horns and pianos where the last album used clapping and harmonicas. The second track, "White Fences", shows the southern roots of the band beginning with mandolins and pianos and tells the story of, in my opinion, a love gone wrong. "Who's gonna mend these white fences?" croons frontman Bear Rinehart. The other "mellow" track on the album is the love song, "A Place Only You Can Go". It's a song that seeks to atone for past mistakes, rather eloquently. "Pain is alive in a broken heart,/ The past never does go away,/ We were born to love and we're born to pay,/ The price for our mistakes,/ Grace, she comes with a heavy load./ Memories, they can't be erased,/ Like a pill I swallow that makes me well,/ But leaves an awful taste." Mix in some bagpipes (what?!) and this song is almost enought to make you cry on first listen.
"Able" is a piano-led, softer song that is the one song on the album that shows off Bear's voice more than any other. The song allows his voice to be the focal point and that's a good thing as he has one of the purest and most powerful voices in music. Lyrically, "Tyrant Kings" is the standout track for me. The whole album is great, but the lyrics on this track make it so that you can't not feel them. "More times than not the ones you love are who you let down./ We're chasing something big our parents never tracked down./ The hardest part is looking back and making sense of,/ The humble tries and troubled times of where we came from." If you're from a small town or a community that felt like one, you know all about this. It perfectly captures the feelings. Towards the end of the album, "Devil's Been Talkin'" sounds like classic "Outsiders" NeedToBreathe and "Angel at My Door" is an upbeat, Southern inspired song.
The middle of the album is the star. "Drive All Night", "Slumber", and "The Reckoning" all capture the live, anthemic, NeedToBreathe sound. "Drive All Night" slowly builds (think "Fix You") to a crescendo that will make you want to play air guitar in your living room while singing "I need a girl who calls me baby,/ I need to know if she can save me,/ I need somewhere I can drive all night." The mantra of the album and what the band seems to be saying to everyone is the key to "Slumber". The song begs us to "wake on up from your slumber, baby, open up your eyes." It's the message that seeks to get you to get ready for what this band is capable of. The title track of the album is the band's message to the world with lyrics and harmonica like "they don't doubt us anymore" and "what will the whole world think?" My favorite line from the song is the bookend at the beginning and end. The last words are "never run away a boy, when you can walk away a man."
I hope that we'll be hearing about this band more and more as the success of their tour with Taylor Swift and their live energy become known. If you get a chance to see them live, do it, you will not be disappointed. This album jumped way up my list of albums of the year and is easily my favorite rock album in years. It's complete and shows that the band is poised to prove to the world that they are here to stay.