Anberlin's Blueprints For The Black Market features the powerful vocals of frontman/lyricist Stephen Christian. Sometimes it's hard to tell exactly what he's trying to communicate with lyrics that lean to the obscure, but power pop with an 80s alternative influence never sounded better. Like many Tooth & Nail projects, Blueprints... doesn't beat you over the head with a Christian message. As lead guitarist Joey Milligan stated in a recent interview:
"We are not a Christian band." He hesitated for a moment, then added, "But we are all Christians."
I won't bother philosophizing on whether Christian artists have a requirement to preach an explicit gospel or whether quality art stands on its own apart from the explicit message. Suffice it to say that veteran producer Aaron Sprinkle (Pedro the Lion, MxPx, and his own Poor Old Lu) once again weaves his sonic magic, impressively blending the talents of this relatively young band (in fact, drummer Nathan Young is only 16) into a package that's pleasing to the ear. Stephen Christian articulates well even when the meaning may be difficult to decipher. Perhaps they should have included lyrics with their 12-page insert booklet as an aid to contemplation. Nonetheless, Christian's voice powerfully conveys emotion on songs such as Anberlin's cover of The Cure's Love Song as well as on his own creations such as the infectious Readyfuels. The band, which also includes bassist Deon Rexroat and guitarist Joey Bruce, lays down a solid musical background that had me cranking up the volume and wanting to drive just a little faster.
If you're a fan of The Cure, Foo Fighters, Jeff Buckley or Tree63, you'll enjoy listening to the melodic Blueprints For The Black Market. It's been in my CD player longer than most of the CDs I review.