Sound — 8
Modern ska-rock troubadours Zox have released the follow up to their 2006 offering The Wait with a mixed bag of rock hues for Line In The Sand, showing yet a new growth spurt for the rock quartet from Providence, Rhode Island. The modern rock shadings of the title track and When The Rain Comes Down Again shows catchy melodic hooks and rhythmic grips reflective of Controlling The Famous with funky vocal steps displaying an exhibitionism liken to Baby Teeth's lead vocalist Abraham Levitan. The album turns contemplative on both the country-folk influenced Goodnight and the soft-rock fluidness of Seventh Avenue Prophet, but the band pumps it up with the ska-rock blades of Towards Los Angeles. This is vintage Zox with rhythmic pulls that prod the vocals on and reggae radials lining the guitar riffs. The punk-tinged rock of I Miss You shows some quick-footed moves relatable to Franz Ferdinand while the jumpy grooves of Another Attack denote an emo stylizing. The acoustic rock turf of The Wait (Part II) is sparsely filled with wandering vocals and butterfly-like flutters in the stringed instruments which inject a tranquilizing feel in the album, while the energetic rock speeds and tension of "The Same (Doesn't Feel The Same)" is heightened by stellar guitar licks that give the melody a heady snarl. The music stings and burns through the ramming punk rock shreds of Don't Believe In Love which is tempered by melodic strings that really come down hard on the thundering gusts sporadically surfacing along Lucky Sometimes. The melody transitions soft riding rhythms with stormy currents that intensify the message in the lyrics.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics in Lucky Sometimes bring out the worries and fears that people at home have for the soldiers they send out to war. Lead singer/guitarist Eli Miller emotes sorrow when sings in the bridge, I had a friend/ Who back when we were kids/ After school he joined the Army and I haven't seen him since/ Everyday the news is all the same/ I go flipping through the pages hoping I won't see his name. The lyrics narrate from the viewpoint of the soldiers, Everyday is harder than the last/ And the answers never come, no matter how often you ask/ I feel lucky sometimes/ I should feel lucky sometimes/ There is a kid in a bunker full of sand/ All around him he hears voices, he'll never understand/ Every night is longer than the last with fever dreams of war machines and never coming back/ I feel lucky sometimes. Between the soft momentum lining the verses emerges thunderous crescendos erected by Miller on guitar, drummer John Zox, bassist Dan Edinberg, and violinist Spencer Swain.
Overall Impression — 8
Zox created an album that is poignant and enjoyable. Produced by John Goodmanson (Death Cab for Cutie, Sleater Kinney), Line In The Sand has relevance in the now. It does not ruminate about yesterday, but concentrates on what is happening now. This might limit the album's longevity because it may only hold relevance for Zox's generation and not beyond that point, but Zox has always been a band that aims to make music that their friends can relate to, which they have achieved with Line In The Sand.