This Is an Outrage
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2008 1 Jul
- Worth as Much as a Counterfeit Dollar
- Out of Control
- Remember the Day
- Miracle Man
- Mile Away
- Work It Out
- Let the Little Lady Talk
- Kick It Off
- Night of Your Life Is When You Die
- Frank Morris
I've previously noted in our weekly newsletter a need for bands to pursue excellence in songwriting more than the fads of their peers. Lo and behold, that's precisely what the new Tooth & Nail band Capital Lights seems to be going for. Some departures from their original line-up as the screamo band afterEight forced bassist Bryson Phillips to step into the role of lead vocalist, and with that transition, they reevaluated their songs and overall style. According to Phillips, the band affirmed their need "to focus the writing on what [we] like rather than trying to be like all the other bands around."
The result was a radical new musical direction, one that caught the attention of several record labels, including Tooth & Nail, which promptly signed Capital Lights and paired them with producer Aaron Sprinkle (Kutless, The Almost) to record their debut,
Call Capital Lights more an amalgamation than an invention if you want, but
Hats off to the band for their busy lyricism too, offering clever wordplay and densely packed phrasing that teeter close to the scat-like style of Jason Mraz. And since they avoid the simplistic template of four-line verses typical of most Christian rock bands, I'm thankful for album's lyric sheet—the wording is layered with a lot to digest in listening as well as reading.
If only these lyrics were packed with more substance; and perhaps they are, but if so, then I'm missing it. There's personality to such rambling angst-filled fluff as the "I'm-missing-you-since-the-day-you-left-me" longing expressed in "Miracle Man" and the "I've-got-you-figured-out-you-heartless-backstabber" anger of "Work It Out." But while relationship songs like "Out of Control" and "Remember the Day" avoid specific clichés, they still resort to thematic clichés—precisely the kind of stuff you'd expect from other emo and punk bands.
The closing song "Frank Morris" does offer something different, intriguingly recounting the criminal's infamous escape from Alcatraz. Yet the details are doled out in a choppy way that's confusing for those unfamiliar with Morris's story. But is it possibly using the escape as a redemptive metaphor about second chances? Or is the point merely to set the escapee's story to song? Either way, the point isn't made very clear.
Also, if you haven't figured it out already,
This isn't to say the rest of the album is incompatible with a Christian worldview or that we can't relate to the relational themes. As it stands,