Anberlin became one of my favorite bands the second I heard them. I don’t think it even took me a full song to fall head over heels for them. I saw them in concert with Taking Back Sunday a couple years ago and they were one of the liveliest, most crowd-engaging bands I’ve seen to date. They’re divine. I felt horrid when I realized they had a new album out and I hadn’t gotten a chance to hear it. I wanted to write about it on the blog, so I’ve been putting off listening to it for a while so I could go through honest first run through reactions. Now, it is time for Vital.
The album opens with the toe-tapper Self-Starter. There are normal Anberlin-esque progressions happening musically, but what Stephen is doing vocally is something on my palette that I’m not used to from this band. The vocals feel a bit more muted in this song and the chorus is exquisitely fast (think BBC’s Sherlock singing the chorus).
I’m mesmerized by Other Side. The vocals are so stated and shy while the drums and guitars come down on you like a ton of bricks. Love me, why don’t you love me? Know me, why don’t you know me? There’s such a beautiful juxtaposition between instruments and vocals in this song that left me with chill bumps.
Vocals are back in full swing and rocking you to sleep in Innocent. This song is striking in so many ways. The music is soothing and intricate. The lyrics tell a sad story that pulls a longing for childhood out of your core. We are all born the innocent, we were born to run carefree. You will live on in the hearts of men, constantly. We were all born the innocent I will hold on til the end – there will never be an end.
Orpheum feels like you’re racing. There’s some brilliant piano additions here that keep up with the swift melody through speeding up and slowing down, adding another dimension to the song and creating a swirling in your ears. This song is Anberlin in their element.
The band wraps up the album with God, Drugs & Sex. This one is like you took a song from this album and leaned it back in a reclining chair. This song is very mellow, moving along slowly and steadily. The addition of soft female vocals in the background adds to the ambiance of the tune. It’s an interesting way to wrap up an album. We started off slow, with vocals that almost sounded like they were behind a veil – until we moved through to clear vocals with more upbeat tempos. By the time we got to Modern Age (the track directly before God, Drugs & Sex), we had reached the heaviest point to the album. After all that, God, Drugs & Sex almost feels like being lifted up into the clouds on a roller coaster.
If I were being real honest, which I’m trying to do, Vital isn’t the album I expected from Anberlin. I’m much more used to them from the likes of Cities (2007). It’s not going to go down in my books as my favorite album from the band, but it’s an interesting transgression for them and I’d be interested in seeing how they translated this album to a live show.
Orpheum (track 9)
Modern Age (track 10)
Little Tyrants (track 2)