Sound — 10
There are millions of ways to describe how this album manages to pick you up clean off the floor, shake you limb from limb, then gracefully place you back on the ground with a new outlook on music, and even life. Debut, the first track on the album, is a 'sit down and buckle your seats' moment, lasting nearly a minute and a half, it really gives you a feeling for the how the record is going to be; dark, edgy, moody, but most of all, epic. With sound bites no doubt taken from the streets of Seattle where the album was recorded, it has a very deep growl to it, like a tiger ready to pounce, yet at the same time, calm enough you could close your eyes and drift off to this calming aura of sound. And then, out of nowhere, bang, track 2 kicks in, the euphorically glorious Godspeed. You can certainly tell this was among the first tracks written for Cities. It is full of energy, passion, and a driving drum beat that gets your heart beating faster than a predator after it's prey. Then the album progresses and goes through just about every mood you can experience as a human being. Adelaide is an instant fan favorite, the classic sound of Anberlin settles in, and fans sit back, relax, and know the band have delivered without even having to listen to the rest. But of course, they do listen on, and boy, what a treat they have in store. A Whisper & A Clamor is possibly a good summary of this album, if you wanted to know how this album sounded, this would probably be the song to listed to. Synth meets heavy guitars, with driving drum rhythms, and Stephens soaring voice all combine, which then breaks into an acoustic meets piano section, before storming back into the chorus. The Unwinding Cable Car. What more is there to say about this track. It is the softer side of Anberlin at it's very best. I know several people who listen to just House/Dance/R&B, and yet, they love this song. That for me is the sign of a musical masterpiece. Lyrical perfection, sonic beauty. Anberlin. I can't possibly talk about every song, they are all perfection, total perfection, with the exception of Alexithymia. While being possibly the deepest lyrically, the chorus is slightly weaker than this song deserves. Stephen Christian has admitted himself it's one songs he wished he'd of spent more time getting right. For me, the last 4 songs of the album go together with such grace, and to put it into context, if I was deaf, but was somehow given the chance to hear for just 30 minutes, it is these 4 songs I would want to hear: Reclusion: Aaron Sprinkle really works wonders getting some very unusual sounds from this band, this being no exception. Synth layers over a killer baseline and guitars that blast in but don't steal the show from the one, the only, Stephen Christian, whose vocals bite into the song like a rabid dog. Inevitable: Some would argue the most beautiful song Anberlin have ever written. I agree. Light string touches, but really, it's just you, a guitar, and Stephen Christian. It's pure, it's honest, it's graceful. It's so lightly produced, and yet so technical, Sprinkle triumphs. Dismantle. Repair: This is a song that somehow has an edge over other songs on Cities. It is the pinnacle, and has every quality you have come to expect from this band. It's emotive lyrics, strong but not overpowering guitars, a bassline that just fit's gloriously, and a drum rhythm that sit's at the back and keeps everything else in shape. You think, how can it get better? Then you are struck by Fin. The last 'proper' track on the album, and an epic classic. This song separates hard-core Anberlin fans from those who are just browsing by. At first, it seems quite, maybe a little boring, but if you actually listen to the lyrics, it tells a story, and it's almost mesmorising. And then, cue the guitars. 'Wow' is the initial feeling, how can this be possible, how can a song evoke so much emotion. It's at this point you realise what you've been listening to is not an album, it's a being. It's a living, breathing, being. It holds your hand in times of need, it gives you confidence when you need it most. It's with you at the good times, and with you at the bad times. It's a best friend, it's a loved one, it's what you need it to be, when you need it most.
Lyrics — 10
'Hands, like secrets are the hardest thing to keep from you'. This is the quality and depth of the bands lyricist and lead singer, Stephen Christian. 'If life has background music, playing your song, I've got to be honest, I try to escape you but the orchestra plays on'. These are not lyrics that come from the pen, they come from the heart, and that's what makes this album lyrically incredible. Every song is personal, every song is written from experiance, and emotions that have been felt. The lyrics have a maturity, and are not just another 'emo' band writing about losing the one you love, or wishing you were dead. At moments, it's almost poetic. This is quality, this is love, this album shows the soul of Stephen Christian; exposed, hiding nothing. Real, and honest, what more could you want from a lyricist?
Overall Impression — 10
This album, for me, is the album every Anberlin album will be compared to, in terms of how it sounds, how it feels, and how it makes you as a listener feel. This is the album that made record labels pay attention, this is the album that will sit as the pride of my CD collection for a very long time. You ask why fans feel so attached to this band, why they follow them around wherever they go, why they buy every piece of merchandise even though they already have too much. This album, this is the reason. You feel honored to have experienced such musical perfection, and so alive with music that alights your soul, and invigorates your mind. Anberlin are not a band, and Cities is not an album. They are friends, and ones you hold close to your heart.