Sound — 5
Anberlin has been by favourite band for the past couple of years. But their new album, "New Surrender" has made rethink of how talented they really are. "New Surrender" is saved by about five decent songs. "Breaking", "Disappear", "Retrace" and "Miserable Visu (ex Malo Bonum)"-or four tracks, sorry-are the only songs that rescue this record from the dumps to join artists like Hawk Nelson, All Time Low and Switchfoot. "Disappear" pumped my adrenaline for this record when I first heard it live in August. I instantly added it to my Myspace profile and changed my layout to a "New Surrender" motif (this all changed thirty days later, following the release). "Disappear" contains the likes of previous works such as "There Are No Mathematics To Love and Loss", "Godspeed, and "Glass to the Arson". The chorus's harmony aligned between the vox and keyboard instantly caught my ears. "Retrace" is the traditional Anberlin love song mourning over some poor ex-girlfriend. Stephen Christian's from the throat vox pierce souls in this one and prove that he has not lost his vocal talents. "Breaking" is again a traditional poor chick song. If you liked Anberlin's previous single "The Unwinding Cable Car" you'll like this one as well. Simple keyboard doo doo doo's follow along the jumpy guitar riffs during the intro and Stephen humiliates some chick with "You make stealing hearts look so easy/where is the girl I adore?" The best aspect about Anberlin is that they can be so damn direct, but hidden. The darkness and honesty is what I dig about Anberlin. Again I'll bring the best track of the record into play. "Miserable Visu" takes a liking of Stephen Christian's side project, Anchor & Braille. Somber and wholesome keyboard notes pulse along with sloth drums until the bridge where choppy and crunchy guitar chords mush in and muted vox drift along with a beautiful harmony. This song is overall one of the best Anberlin works ever, if not thee best. A work like this, does not deserve an unworthy home of "New Surrender".
Lyrics — 6
The lyrics of Stephen Christian have been the key attraction for most Anberlin fans. But in this album, it seems that Stephen handed over his pen to a seventh grade youth group addict. The last record, "Cities", seemed emo, but the lyrics were clever and cunning. In "Surrender", the talent of "Cities" is hardly seen. Such as in "Younglife" when Christian sings "Hey brother/do you remember when... /". And following the chorus, the backup vox sing along with a ever-so-predictable 'la la la' interlude. "Breathe" is the most cliche song on the record. The words have simply been wrote before. This is where that youth group kid comes in. "No need to hide anything anymore/can't return to who I was before." Then the cheezy chorus comes along and I can just smell the chedder oozing out of the speakers by this time. Nate Young's bass drum pumps up a heartbeat, strings cry out a joyful vomit-worthy harmony and Stephen sings "I can finally breathe/suddenly alive." Eh? I think I heard that about ten years ago when the Newsboys came around. Heads up Anberlin, you're a Warped Tour band, not Creation Festival. Hallelujah! However, in "Miserable Visu (ex Malo Bonum)" we see the exact opposite. The song is a religious piece, but the lyrics are deep and shuttering. We see a glance at "Cities" when the second verse comes along: "The sun will turn dark very soon/your days are numbered when there's blood on the moon". The best thing about Stephen Christian lyrics are when he forces the listener to ponder the moral of the song. This is what this album lacks: intelligence.
Overall Impression — 6
Despite signing onto a major lable, Universal Republic Records, Anberlin still failed to impress the royalty of modern day rock pros. It's obvious that the guys are taking a shot at a more mature approach, but this one did not get anywhere close to the bull's eye. "New Surrender" is the most religious of their four albums, but it is also the worst. Showing your fans something that they are not immune to, does not always prove benifitial. The people who enjoy this record are people who either have a restricted music base, are hardcore christians or do not know Anberlin's previous works. Advice to Anberlin, cheese is not good for musicians. Scientifically, it coats the throat and makes singing difficult. News to talented vocalist Stephen Christian who sings through his throat. But morally, it's sticky, heavy and hard to get rid of. The best thing to do would be to rid yourself of the cheesiness and stick to that previous edge of "Cities". Eat some power bars instead. Saying God and Lord in your lyrics are completely different than singing Jesus. Jesus wears sandals, not Vans. If you want to stay on Warped Tour, stop saying Jesus. Orchestra is great, but only in a sad song, not an uplifting breath of air. We can resperate fine without the exhaling strings, thankyou. Don't do what's already been done. What has not been done is Anberlin, no one else has done Anberlin like the previous albums did. Everyone has done Anberlin like "New Surrender" did. Stick to your own guns, not the Newsboys's.