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"Cities" a Solid Third Effort from Anberlin

  • Andrew Scates CCM Magazine
  • 2007 12 Apr
"Cities" a Solid Third Effort from Anberlin

Artist:  Anberlin
Title:  "Cities"
Label:  Tooth & Nail

Following a lengthy tour in support of its breakthrough second album, "Never Take Friendship Personal," Anberlin returned to the studio to emerge with "Cities" – an album that, for lack of a better term, just sounds big.

With tighter playing and stronger writing, "Cities" displays Anberlin’s growth as a band, as the songwriting team of singer Stephen Christian and guitarist Joseph Milligan lead the Florida quintet to focus on not just creating a collection of rocking songs (which they do), but creating a solid album.

It quickly kicks into gear with the frantic anthem “Godspeed,” followed by the upbeat and radio-ready “Adelaide.” As one would expect from Anberlin, "Cities" is packed with plenty of numbers that bring the rock, such as “A Whisper and a Clamor” and “Alexithymia.” This doesn’t mean that the band has to hide behind amps at full gain, though – the ballad “The Unwinding Cable Car” displays Anberlin’s skill in stripping its material down to a couple of acoustic guitars with minimal drum and bass to produce one of the strongest songs on the record.

There is a fine art to creating closing tracks, and Anberlin manages to pull this off pretty well by saving some of its best songs for last. The heavy, yet slightly downbeat “Dismantle Repair” fades nicely into the appropriately-titled “Fin,” which begins with mostly acoustics, then transitions into the entire band playing at full volume, before finally adding in a full children’s choir; the result of which is near-epic. If the grandeur of “Fin” could be captured earlier throughout the album, it might be what "Cities" needs to not just be a good album, but to be a great album.

Lyrically, "Cities" seems to move from enthusiasm in taking on the world (“they lied when they said the good die young”) to disappointment and loneliness (“is anybody out there?”), followed by a bittersweet nostalgia that leads to hopeful possibility (“things are going to change now for the better”), suggesting the sense of struggle that comes with growing older and going forward in life. "Cities," if anything, evokes a hope for the future. 

© 2007 CCM Magazine.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.   Click here to subscribe.


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