Written by: PP on 07/03/2007 13:16:15

Anberlin is another one of the Hawthorne Heights-breed emo bands that was always just deemed 'okay' and 'fair' but never received any critical acclaim for their first two albums. Personally I found a bunch of their songs enjoyable, but nevertheless I hardly ever included them on my playlist, maybe because there was always something better to put on at the time. This has all changed since the release of "Cities", their third album with the same producer (Aaron Sprinkle), who has jampacked the album full of arena-sized emo rock anthems capable of infiltrating any rock lover's playlist.

Whether it's the fact that during the recording process the band asked their fans to message their phone numbers to them to ask for advice in writing and recording the album, or that producer Aaron Sprinkle has played a huge part in shaping Anberlin's Christianity-inspired emocore sound to what it is on "Cities", the truth is that the album is better in almost every aspect in comparison to their earlier works. "Godspeed" has the pace and the catchyness of an anthem that could move arena-sized venues up and down without leaving much space for anyone to criticize the "new Anberlin" sound. The guitars are refreshingly original and the hooks catchier than they've ever been before, the jumpy lead riff of "Adelaide" highlights the bass line nicely, and the chorus sees vocalist Stephen Christian at his very best, shouting out long melodic stretches without breaking his voice, all while sounding strikingly similar to the Hawthorne Heights frontman J.T. Woodruff.

Much of "Cities" could be summed up by just saying that it's the album Hawthorne Heights wanted to write all along without success. Song after song, Anberlin sends well-layered guitars, electronic keyboard influences and overly melodic choruses where changes in pitch and tone aren't uncommon, though screaming is avoided at almost all times. "A Whisper & A Clamour" as well as "There Is No Mathematics To Love And Loss" are both from the top end of the album, but it's difficult to name just one highlight when they are scattered so evenly across the album. Take the second last track "Dismantle. Repair" for instance. It shows no sign of the band slowing down as the album approaches close, and is the kind of song that was destined for arena-sized venues. Think Fall Out Boy's new material meets Halifax and you're not far off.

The only conceivable problem on the album is the two or three acoustic anthems which entirely break the flow, and forcibly place the band back into the emo-clichés category. It seems that the acoustic-tracks on your album trend isn't dying off anytime soon. As great as the many upbeat emocore meets arena rock tracks on the album are, they are severly contrasted by the sheer lack of power and energy in the acoustic songs, thus reducing the overall impact the album may have on you.

Otherwise, "Cities" puts forth undeniably the best work Anberlin has written to date, and underlines that even though I tend to disagree with it almost always, sometimes bigger really IS better. See you at the arenas Anberlin.

Download: "Dismantle. Repair", Godspeed
For the fans of: Halifax, Hawthorne Heights, Emery, Fall Out Boy
Listen: Purevolume

Release date 20.02.2007
Tooth & Nail

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