Dark is the Way, Light is a Place Reveals a More Mature Anberlin
- 2010 16 Sep
Title: Dark is the Way, Light is a Place
Label: Universal Republic
The cover art might be a clue—a horse captured in free-fall, limbs flailing. Fitting, perhaps, since Anberlin's latest, Dark is the Way, Light is a Place (which takes its name, with one word change, from a Dylan Thomas poem), is an album about suspension, being on the way to somewhere, but not there yet, dealing with the obstacles along the path.
It's definitively the band's most mature album to date, both lyrically and musically. Sure, there's emotional turmoil, but this isn't your manufactured Linkin Park suburban angst. When lead vocalist Stephen Christian sings, "Because of you/I'll never write another love song," we're both disappointed and intrigued. Christian and the band wrote some pretty darn good love songs, as I recall. So what's up here? The answer is songs about leaving and being left (Christian sings "Thought it was you and me against the world/but you left me to the wolves" on "To the Wolves"), and having to pick up the pieces afterwards. A patient acknowledgment of life's ebb and flow permeates the lyrics, which still manage to burn with the earnestness of Anberlin's emo roots.
The maturity also is visible with the record's sound. Credit Anberlin for recruiting versatile rock producer Brendan O'Brien (Pearl Jam, Korn, Bruce Springsteen) to tinker with, but not radically alter, things. The lead single "Impossible" lacks the straight-ahead first-listen appeal of "Feel Good Drag," but holds up nicely after multiple listens, with a thudding bed of rhythm guitar and a streamlined lead guitar. It's a keeper. Also winners are the album's opener, "We Owe This to Ourselves"—which opens with a rolling bed of snarling guitars and a straight-ahead beat—and "Closer," which takes longer to develop, but fires on all cylinders on the chorus, with Christian's vocals soaring above a wall of guitars. Tracks like "You Belong Here" and "Take Me as You Found Me" feature a touch more echo and reverb.
What I most appreciate about this record is its willingness to acknowledge life beyond the first hit record. With previous albums Cities and New Surrender, Anberlin has already found chart-topping success, but with Dark is the Way, Light is a Place the band seems to be taking steps to make sure it builds a career, not just provides its fans a safe more-of-the-same record. That's bright thinking.
**This review first published on September 16, 2010.
Watch the lastest Anberlin music videos on their official artist page at Godtube.com!