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Well Meaning Fiction

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2006 1 Feb
Well Meaning Fiction
Sounds like … melodic rock that balances grunge and ethereal influences, recalling Sanctus Real, Kutless, Copeland, The Afters, Building 429, Lifehouse, and Goo Goo Dolls to varying extentsAt a glance … Mainstay's could benefit from more sonic variation and fully developed lyricism, but their full-length debut remains a better than average alt pop/rock effortTrack Listing These Pages Mirrors Yesterday This Could Be Overnight on Nicollet Take Away Danger Well Meaning Fiction October Came Late Down Silver Lake Take Away (reprise)

Minnesota trio Mainstay started out a punk rock act almost five years ago in the Minneapolis suburbs, but they quickly gravitated toward alt-rock after moving downtown for college. The change in scenery afforded them more performance opportunities, to the point where they ultimately chose the touring circuit over finishing school. Before long, they caught the attention of Kutless guitarist Ryan Shrout, who helped open doors for Mainstay to sign with BEC and record their debut Well Meaning Fiction with producer Aaron Sprinkle (Kutless, Anberlin).

Committed to writing songs relevant to both Christians and non-believers, Mainstay admirably tackles some meaty topics. The title track expresses concern over sugarcoating the gospel, and "These Pages" upholds the sovereignty of God's infallible Word. They touch on the shortcomings of self-help psychology ("Mirrors") and nostalgic reflection ("Yesterday") in light of Christ's redemptive power. "Down Silver Lake" poetically longs for Jesus to be our heart's desire, while "Overnight on Nicollet" shares an example of renewed faith taken from an autobiographical experience at the local shopping mall. To Mainstay's credit, they avoid hackneyed faith expressions, and lead singer Justin Anderson offers some eloquent song explanations in the press kit. But the lyrics inadequately explore the subjects, due to the brevity and vagueness of the band's writing style.

Mainstay's sound enjoyably combines melodic grunge pop (Kutless, Building 429), catchy modern rock (Santcus Real, The Afters), and ethereal alternative (Copeland) in the best possible way. The occasionally heavy electric guitars are refreshingly balanced with keyboard ambience and Anderson's affecting falsetto. Those who appreciate the radio single "Take Away" will rejoice to learn that the other nine songs are similarly appealing. Unfortunately, they're also all very similar to one another, making it hard to sustain interest through a relatively short and homogenous album. There are many bands similar to this one, some far more compelling with lyrics and sonic variation, but Mainstay is still better than average compared to the well meaning alt pop/rock of other artists.

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