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What Are You Waiting For?

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Jul
What Are You Waiting For?
Sounds like … first-rate power pop and punk rock in the style of Relient K, Everclear, Jimmy Eat World, and The RamonesAt a Glance … featuring two members of rapcore rockers Thousand Foot Krutch, FM Static's specifically teen-oriented debut is a solid effort packed with irresistible melodies and guitar hooks

It's been a long three years since Set It Off, the 2000 debut of Canadian rapcore band Thousand Foot Krutch. That time has been largely spent touring and gathering a deservedly strong following, as well as working out a new record deal with Tooth & Nail. Their eagerly anticipated follow-up, Phenomenon, will release fall of 2003, but fans needn't wait that long for new music. Lead vocalist/guitarist Trevor McNevan has developed a side project called FM Static, which includes Thousand Foot Krutch drummer Steve Augustine, plus bassist Justin Smith and guitarist John Bunner.

McNevan had written a cache of songs that didn't quite fit the vision of his primary band-in this case, songs that aren't as evangelistic as those typified by Thousand Foot Krutch. So he approached Tooth & Nail with the idea of a side project showcasing his and Augustine's love of melodic power pop and punk rock. The label agreed and set them up with Aaron Sprinkle, who has produced most of Tooth & Nail's and BEC's releases in the last year. The result is FM Static's debut, What Are You Waiting For?, which resembles Relient K, Jimmy Eat World, Everclear, Weezer, Third Eye Blind, and The Ramones (appropriately enough, since McNevan wears a T-shirt of the band in a CD photo).

FM Static is less concerned with expressing faith than empathizing with their core audience of teens. The album primarily deals with themes of romantic longing, fun with friends, hurtful relationships, and high school graduation. Ultra-catchy cuts such as "Three Days Later," "Definitely Maybe," and "Donna" (with an infectious chorus of "doo-doo's" akin to Third Eye Blind's "Semi-Charmed Kind of Life") are peppered with pop-culture references, quirky rhymes, and instantly likable melodies. "My First Stereo" stands out as an enjoyable tribute to the gift of music and the comfort it brings: "Somethin' tells me I'll never be close to another like you/Helped me through all the things that we all go through."

Two of the CD's eleven songs delve into deeper subjects pertaining to society and faith. The addictive power pop of "Crazy Mary" is about not judging a book by its cover and reaching out to the lost and needy-in this case, a homeless woman who turns out to be a believer. "Something to Believe In" probes for purpose in life that runs deeper than the world's temporary highs or the coldness of religion without a personal relationship with Jesus: "And if you don't know what I'm talkin' about/It's probably better, cuz I'm working it out/Don't wanna spend my lifetime figurin' out/That I could have said just one prayer."

I'm only now realizing with this disc that hidden tracks can be used to disguise an album's brevity. Subtract the blank space between the extra cut and the album proper, and it runs a little under 30 minutes. All but one song are less than three minutes, though the album doesn't actually feel that short. Despite a rousing start, What Are You Waiting For? becomes a little monotonous after the first five songs. It's not that the second half necessarily suffers—any of these songs could serve as a radio single—but they somewhat blur together as a whole.

Still, FM Static sounds terrific in every way—musicianship and production—so one could say they accomplish everything they intended. Older listeners should remember that the music is geared to teens, and the themes might be too sophomoric for a more mature audience. Bands like Relient K or Sanctus Real, in contrast, have a similar fun sound infused with enough intelligence for adults to appreciate. If you're selective in your music purchases, I'd sooner recommend recent releases from either of those bands. But if you prefer modern punk-rock and power-pop-or if you're looking for a teen-themed CD-you can't go wrong with FM Static. What Are You Waiting For? is sort of like a cheeseburger and milkshake—not all that substantial but nonetheless tasty.