Reset & Rewind
- reviewed by Christa Banister Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2007 1 Sep
- NYC Gangsters
- Eleven Regrets
- December Mourning
- Better Man
- The End
- The Inventor
If music critics were to compile a list of frustrations with projects they review, I'd guess sameness ("been there, heard that") would rank near the top nowadays. Though it's often said that there's nothing new under the sun, there's still a need for artists to offer something fresh or distinctive sounding rather than generic. True, being different for different's sake can also fall flat, but the unique and unexpected elements heard on Reset & Rewind are what make Manic Drive so interesting.
The opening track "NYC Gangsters" gives the initial impression that the album is going to resemble the high-octane rock of Panic! At the Disco. But that changes with the lush piano-driven strains of "Eleven Regrets," showcasing a more straightforward pop sensibility that engages in a different way, thanks to a great hook and the affecting vocals of Shawn Cavallo. Keeping the pace fast and furious is "Blue," featuring a cameo from Kevin Max, whose signature vibrato adds another layer of richness to a crowd-pleasing sing-along rocker.
Yet as exceptional as the first three tracks are, it's after that where Manic Drive becomes more, well, manic. Kicking off with a groovy guitar lick and some fantastic female backup vocals, "Dancefloor" is funky, fun and memorable, even if you're not sure what to make of it initially because it so takes you by surprise. The remainder of the album doesn't disappoint either as the band seamlessly segues from metal to R&B to funk without missing a beat or sounding disjointed in the process—a remarkable feat.
The band is equally varied in its lyricism, tackling a range of relevant issues. Though "Obvious" is the only significant hiccup in the music with its predictable nu-metal sound, it's also one of the best in expressing the band's ministry, challenging shallow Christians to pursue a deeper walk with Jesus. "December Mourning" stands out as well for its urgent and provocative handling of living with regret, while the aforementioned "Dancefloor" reminds listeners that having fun and being a Christian isn't mutually exclusive.
It's the overall combination of style and substance that really goes the distance in keeping the listeners (and critics) intrigued for 13 tracks. If only more albums could follow suit.