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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

All Gas. No Brake.

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 Feb
All Gas. No Brake.
Sounds like … a poppier, less cerebral version of Relient K, with nods to Simple Plan, blink-182, and Good Charlotte.At a glance … what Stellar Kart lacks in substance they make up in energy and lighthearted peppiness, but this alone does not a good album make.Track ListingStudent DriverSecond ChancesCome Back HomeSpending TimeLivin' on a PrayerA Love SongSuperstarLife is GoodTree ClimberGone Fishin'Finish Last

Is it really a good time to introduce a brand-new pop/punk act? Green Day first made its mark over ten years ago, blink-182 had its first breakthrough in 1999, and even Christian music's own Relient K has been in the business for nearly half a decade. What's helped all three remain relevant is the timely decision to finally grow up and toss aside (almost) all silliness, favoring topics a bit more mature than girlfriend-devouring Marilyn Mansons or the self-indulgence oft associated with the genre.

This context puts Stellar Kart in a somewhat difficult position, as their self-produced debut, All Gas. No Brake., is a sterile, teen-friendly version of what their forefathers did with more credibility and fun. If compositionally Relient K is likened to Green Day, Stellar Kart would be the Christian equivalent of Simple Plan or Good Charlotte: poppy and inoffensive enough to be appreciated by teenagers and pop radio, but too sterile and indistinct to be embraced by more seasoned rock listeners.

This proves to be the band's most prominent downfall, as Stellar Kart struggles with a sense of its own individuality, shifting from fast-paced, rat-a-tat pop/punk ("Second Chances," "Student Driver") to worshipful material ("A Love Song") and then back to more pop/punk. Despite the album's title, the project does come to a stop faster than it gains momentum, and, save for a couple of head-turners—their cover of Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" or the heartfelt closer "Finish Last"—it all goes by in a breeze.

A producer with a grander vision, more songs, or perhaps meatier themes would've given Stellar Kart the push it needed to make it to the finish line. As it stands, All Gas. No Brake. barely makes it to the pit stop.