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A Fire So Big the Heavens Can See It

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2008 1 Apr
A Fire So Big the Heavens Can See It
Sounds like … the melodic emo-rock of Jimmy Eat World, Anberlin, Mae, and FugaziAt a glance … Though Search the City skillfully delivers their brand of emo-rock, the themes and style soon become repetitious and their messages mixed and muddledTrack Listing Son of a Gun To the Moon for All I Care Detroit Was Built on Secrets Ambulance Chaser Talk Is Cheap and I've Got Expensive Taste The Rescue Bigger Scars Make Better Stories The Streetlight Diaries In This Scene You're Just an Extra Clocks and Timepieces

Can it be? Yes, it appears we've got yet another emo-flavored modern rock band from Tooth & Nail. Search the City chose their name after looking throughout their hometown of Detroit for musicians to fill their ranks.

It would be tempting to say Search the City's debut A Fire So Big the Heavens Can See It resembles every other emo-rock release in recent years. For sure, there are obvious comparisons to Anberlin and Jimmy Eat World, as well as the melodic sensibilities of Mae. Plus, all ten tracks tend to resemble each other in tempo and style.

But to the band's credit, they play their hearts out, and though the overall sound is happy and melodic, you can hear the hardcore metal influences in the bass and drums. Plus, producer James Paul Wisner (Underoath, Dashboard Confessional) stirs things up by adding the occasional pipe organ, chimes, and other assorted touches, however briefly.

Too bad the content of the songs aren't as strong. Though the melodies are generally joyful and positive in tone, nearly every lyric is full of angst over hurtful relationships. You might even say songs like "Son of a Gun" and "Ambulance Chaser" have a vindictive streak, which seems out of sync with not only the happy pop, but also with the band's Christian beliefs. Sure, we all know pain from a broken heart, but "The Rescue" starts off as an apology, only to end up picking apart the person it's directed at. You also won't hear much forgiveness or reconciliation in a song like "Talk Is Cheap and I've Got Expensive Taste," as Josh Frost confronts a liar with, "You said it with a straight face/The kind I'd like to break."

On top of that, most of the band's lyrics are muddled and encumbered by confusing messages. To the Moon for All I Care" appears to be about someone wrestling with personal insecurities who eventually finds what he's looking for, only to remain mistrusting ("You're about as honest as a liar could ever be"). Don't ask me how, but the band says the song is about the obscure movie Danny Deckchair, which was inspired by the news report of the guy who tied balloons to his lawn chair and floated away. Likewise, have fun trying to make sense out of "Detroit Was Built on Secrets," which is supposedly about recognizing our sinful shortcomings ("Oh my God, forgive me for who I'm not!"), but focuses mostly on lies and false rumors spread by others.

It quickly becomes easy to lose track (and interest) of who wronged who and which one's telling lies. Clever titles and hefty emo-rock aside, Search the City gets lost in its own repetition and mixed messages.

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