Reviewing the Decade in Music: Entry #3

High on my list of top albums from the decade is Anberlin's Cities. Following up Anberlin's Blueprints for the Black Market and Never Take Friendship Personal, Cities was an uncharacteristically dark album, lush with powerful imagery and mature themes. Released on February 20, 2007, Cities saw relativly strong sales for an alternative rock release on a mid-sized record label (Tooth and Nail, Seattle) as the album debuted at  #19 on the US Billboard sales chart and reached number seven in top album sales on iTunes. Music critics fell in love with Cities, as a negative review is difficult to find.

Cities soaring success can be contributed to its sparkling polish. Every note on the album was careful recorded, and producer Aaron Sprinkle did an excellent job molding Anberlin's sound to lead singer Stephen Christian's progressively introspective lyrics. In comparison to the band's sophomore release, Never Take Friendship Personal, the sound on Cities is bigger, distinct, and more full. Drummer Nathan Young provides strong, driving beats that allow the songs on Cities to retain the catchiness of Anberlin's previous releases, while abandoning the light hearted pop style of BPFTBM and NTFP.

Highlights from Cities include the anthem-esque "Godspeed." Led by blazing guitar riffs, Christian's vocal performance is top-notch as he hauntingly whispers "they lied when they said that the good die young" in the bridge between choruses.

"Dismantle. Repair" is structured around a spacey guitar rhythm that leads into a hard-hitting chorus that features some of Christian's best vocal presentation on the album. The real head turner on Cities is the brilliant, nine minute opera, "Fin." A very low tempo melody provides a strong backing for Christian's powerful lyrics at the beginning of the track, while building up to a loud guitar section and a stifling performance from Christian. The rest of the track basks in the emotional remains of the first four minutes of the song,  including backing vocals from a children's choir.

Cities is an album that should not be praised for its vision or creativity, but rather for the pure excellence of its recording. Every track is distinct and powerful, wrapped in a neat package that pays perfect tribute to Anberlin's strengths. Stephen Christian's lyrics and vocal performance on Cities are among the best of the decade in alternative rock.



1 comment:

  1. Truthfully never even heard of this band ,but i did take the time to watch the videos you posted and i'll look more into them.