Sounds like … a hybrid of modern rock and pop that isn't too far off from Further Seems Forever, Interpol, Fall Out Boy, and Franz Ferdinand, as well as the anthemic sounds of Switchfoot, U2, and The OutfieldAt a glance … New Surrender is a slightly more pop-friendly album than Anberlin's previous efforts, but it's also their most stylistically varied and spiritual, ultimately showing a willingness to grow as a bandTrack Listing The Resistance Breaking Blame Me! Blame Me! Retrace Feel Good Drag Disappear Breathe Burn Out Brighter (Northern Lights) Younglife Haight Street Soft Skeletons Miserabile Visu (Ex Malo Bonum)

Five years ago, Anberlin made their debut and became an instant indie rock darling, drawing largely from classic '80s bands like The Cure, The Smiths, and The Outfield as well as contemporaries like Interpol, The Juliana Theory, and Franz Ferdinand. With each successive release, they only seemed to gain momentum, to the point where they've almost become like U2 and Coldplay as a band that has defined a sound and is regularly used for comparison's sake. When you're perceived as a trendsetter, the bigger record labels are bound to take notice. And just months after the release of Cities in 2007, which debuted in the Top 20 of the Billboard 200, Anberlin signed with Universal Republic to go the mainstream route.

Barely a year after that deal, the Florida quintet takes their next big step into a larger world with New Surrender, their intriguingly titled fourth studio album. Is it suggesting that the band has sold out to the music industry? Or is there deeper meaning to the title? There are only hints of what the "surrender" refers to, but Anberlin's sound is certainly "new."Though each of the three recordings with Aaron Sprinkle (Kutless, Jeremy Camp) was markedly improved from the last, the Florida quintet's sound was starting to fall into a rut. It was high time they made some adjustments.

Enter producer Neal Avron (New Found Glory, Fall Out Boy), who pushed the band to work on their arrangements and break from convention. The results are bound to stir debate among Anberlin's core fan base. Many would say that the band has surrendered their emo alternative style to more pop-friendly melodic rock. At times, this is definitely true, but Anberlin also still remains true to their distinctive sound on New Surrender.

Longtime fans will gravitate toward the opener, "The Resistance," another heavy-hitting modern rocker reminiscent of many of Anberlin's past songs. Percolating guitars underscore generalized lyrics of empowerment and revolution—against what, it's never clear, but this is easily one of Anberlin's best with big rhythmic hits and gang vocals punctuating the chorus. The faithful will also enjoy "Blame Me! Blame Me!" as well as a punchy remake of "Feel Good Drag" (originally from 2005's Never Take Friendship Personal). And the fast-paced "Disappear" seems a natural evolution of the band's '80s-derived alt-rock style.

p>But then other tracks are more radio-friendly than any of Anberlin's previous work. "Breaking" and "Retrace" bear more of a pop flavor in their melodies and use of strings, while "Younglife" offers a nostalgic look to childhood with nuanced acoustic pop. And "Haight Street" is upbeat pop/rock fun with plenty of handclaps, sharing more in common with The Bay City Rollers or early Beatles than Anberlin's alt/emo rock influences. Though it's understandable why some fans would be disappointed, it all brings some much-needed variation to the album, allowing each song to stand on its own merits. Additionally, the songwriting has become tighter and more focused, rather than the meandering emo exhibited on Anberlin's earlier albums.