Sound — 9
Let me start off by saying this review may have some slight bias. Anberlin is my favorite band and in my opinion, this album is their masterpiece. You'll hear some say that Never Take Friendship Personal is the best, but it doesn't come close to the musical creativity as this one. Anberlin's musicianship shines through and sets them apart. Whether it's guitarist Joey Milligan's massive guitar on songs like Godspeed and Adelaide, Nate Young's incredibly finnesse drumming on songs like Alexithymia or A Whisper and a Clamo, or Stephen Christian's incredibly strong vocals on (*Fin)or The Unwinding Cable Car. Also, Anberlin has no fear of trying new things. The added synth presence on the poppy Adelaide, the dancy There Is No Mathematics to Love and Loss, and the brooding Reclusion adds a nice touch, even though I would say those songs did not approach the greatness of songs like Hello Alone or Dismantle. Repair. The one problem I have with the sound is that the very electronic production can sometimes be a little bit too much.
Lyrics — 10
Anberlin is probably one of the most well-rounded bands in music today. You'll find very few bands that can combine incredibly dynamic and exciting music AND incredible lyrics. Stephen Christian is, in my opinion, one of the best lyricists in music today. No songwriter in today's music has crafted such a beautifully, poetic song as Alexithymia which paints a cloudy picture of people who have become numb and emotionless to everything. That said, the clear lyrical winner is (*Fin) which talks about Christian's disenchanment with the church and combines perfectly with the music (as does most every other song) to create one of the most epic songs in the rock genre. Stephen Christian's vocals are also outstanding on this track more than any other. Other lyrical standouts are Dismantle. Repair. Which is a call to change, (and also finds Christian doing more than just singing, but truly selling the song with emotion) and Hello Alone which confronts depression. I can't imagine any album having better lyrics than Cities. Stephen Christian is also one of the best singer's out there right now with a range unheard of for a man. Very few singers could sing the epic high notes in (*Fin) or Hello Alone, much less actually sell them and make them believable. And his voice isn't just a studio product. Having seen Anberlin live multiple times, I know that Stephen can in fact actually sing like that.
Overall Impression — 10
This is the album that caught Universal's attention. It's an album that sets Anberlin apart from other bands in the alternative rock scene, but doesn't put them too far away to be accessible. There's quite the variety of songs. The lovelorn ballad Inevitable; the brutal, fast-paced rocker Godspeed; the acoustic driven Alexithymia; the emotional Hello Alone, and of course the epic (*Fin). Very few bands have as much talent as Anberlin, either. Stephen Christian's vocals are some of the best I've ever heard. Joey Milligan's guitar is creative and tasteful, but also very technical. Nate Young's drumming is finesse and tasteful, but again, very advanced and technical. And he was only 19 at the time! I would recommend this album to ANY rock music fan. I'd suggest trying to get the deluxe edition because the DVD is really good as are the bonus tracks. Standouts from this album include, but are in no way limited to, (*fin), The Unwinding Cable Car, Hello Alone, and Dismantle. Repair. (my personal favorite).