Reese Roper, leader of the ever-popular punk/ska band Five Iron Frenzy, decided to form Brave St. Saturn several years ago as an outlet for some of his darker and more emotionally haunting songs. This might come as a surprise to FIF listeners, who haven't exactly been spared dark and emotional songs--however, BSS also takes a new direction musically, leaving the horn section behind and creating an "astro-rock" sound with plenty of guitars and programming. It works. Although Roper writes most of the lyrics and sings lead, BSS is a group project. Dennis Culp wroteHeart Still Beats, and sings lead for that track. Keith Hoerig and Andrew Verdecchio from FIF complete the band, and helped write the music.
The Light of Things Hoped For... is a mini-rock opera of sorts, replete with comics featuring our valiant quartet of ex-FIF members who have been exploring Saturn in their ship, the USS Gloria. The album begins with a hint of impending disaster, as we hear the Challenger space shuttle's countdown and liftoff. The upbeat and rocking The Sun Also Rises showcases Reese's familiar voice over a new musical flavor, brimming with temporary misplaced optimism: I flip the switch, we're going home.
The darker side quickly intrudes in Binary as Reese laments:
I drift in space / My dreams are haunted by her face / Blessed are the drifters, the stars that die / whose light expires before goodbyes
Just when you think Roper is only miserable writing about relationships, we get to Enamel:
my heart is cold and black, but I just don't think I care / So here's to me saying "Fare-thee-well", / and when you hear this song I hope it hurts / Enamel, is stretched too thin / you're beautiful, but not beneath your skin
Okay, so things are still not quite perfect. Anastasia follows, recalling Pre-Ex-Girlfriend, recounting the glories of a girl who seems unattainable: She hits the mark / the kindled spark / but I'll just drag her down, down
Don't get the idea that The Light of Things Hoped For... simply laments over women who are lost or unattainable, though. Roper bares his soul in Estrella, memorializing a friend who died of a rare disease:
I've never felt so fake / so false, I'm such a lie / I couldn't even look him in the eyes / He was twenty-five like I was / but he was deaf and slowly going blind / he made my faith seem worthless / the things I hoped were pointless / and he fought to stay / but always dreamed that he could leave this place / the angels wings / will cover you tonight / Hallelujah / press your head / against the breast of Christ / Hallelujah
The album closes with Daylight, as our protagonist realizes he will not return to earth:
Did you hear the news today? I'm not coming home, yet the ultimate homecoming gives hope: Jesus Christ, you dry the tears / You break my heart of stone / Your words are life / cut marrow through / the darkness, through the bone / A heart of flesh You gave to me / Only You can save me / Savior / Daylight / I am coming home
The Light of Things Hoped For... is a must for all Five Iron fans, but it will appeal to a broader audience as well, especially those who like sci-fi, honest lyrics and comicbook illustrations in their liner notes!
Visit: Brave St. Saturn and Tooth & Nail Music.