Anberlin is not a Christian band per se--rather, it's a group of Christian musicians performing some great-sounding rock songs in the guitar-driven Brit-flavored alternative modern rock emo genre (did I use enough adjectives?). Stephen Christian's outstanding voice resonates with passion onNever Take Friendship Personal, mostly decrying relationships gone bad, with his laments punctuated by aggressive guitar work. One of the songs that is catchiest musically but still hard-hitting lyrically is The Feel Good Drag:
Everyone in this town / is seeing somebody else / Everybody's tired of someone / Our eyes wander for help / Prayers that need no answer now / I'm tired of who I am / You were my greatest mistake / I fell in love with your sin / Your littlest sin / Was this over before / before it ever began? / Your kiss, your calls, your clutch / Like the devil's got your hands / This was over before / before it ever began / Your lips, your lies, your lust / Like the devil's in your hands
The most touching song lyrically for me was Paperthin Hymn, apparently written for Stephen Christian's late grandmother. The passionate vocals draw you into a song of lament that also conveys an underlying Christian hope:
These roads never seemed so long / Since your paper heart stopped beating / leaving me suddenly alone / Will daybreak ever come? / Who's gonna call on Sunday morning? / Who's gonna drive you home? / I just want one more chance / to put my arms in fragile hands / I thought you said forever / Over and over / A sleepless night becomes bitter oblivion / These thoughts run through my head / Over and over / Complaints of violins become my only friends / August evenings bring solemn warnings / to remember to kiss / the ones you love goodnight / You never know what temporal days may bring / So laugh, love, live free and sing / When life is in dischord, "Praise ye the Lord"
Anberlin's melodic sound is perfectly nuanced by the production of Aaron Sprinkle, who attended Anberlin's live show to get a better feel for the band's peformance dynamic. The result will please all fans of the band's debut project, Blueprints for the Black Market. As always, the song titles tend to the unique, such as (the symphony of) blasé, the catchy Audrey, Start the Revolution! and dance, dance Christa Paffgen.
Never Take Friendship Personal is for fans of aggressive emo / modern rock. Jimmy Eat World fans should enjoy it, as will all current Anberlin fans. The sound overall remains pretty consistent over the two albums, although a heavier moment occurs when Ryan Clark of Demon Hunter adds cameo growls to the title track.