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The North Pole Project

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2008 1 Jan
The North Pole Project
Sounds like … the melodic and emo-flavored indie rock of bands like Further Seems Forever, Anberlin, and to some extent, Falling UpAt a glance … it's nice to hear founding member Jeff Schneeweis broadening his horizons on this pseudo-solo project, but it's nothing that hasn't been heard before, lacking the indie rock punch that comes from a collaborative band effortTrack Listing The Massacre Million The Best of You and Me Wake Me Up Bad Habits I'll Find You Thank You Ending Find Your Escape The Different Ones This Holiday

Making their national debut with Celebrate Mistakes in 2003, Number One Gun seemed to pick up steam after switching to Tooth & Nail for their 2005 release, Promises for the Imperfect. Then the band abruptly announced they were splitting up to pursue different projects, including indie pop band Surrogate, formed by drummer Jordan Mallory and guitarist Chris Keene.

So now here's The North Pole Project. Is Number One Gun still a band? Yes and no. The album is frontman Jeff Schneeweis, pretty much performing, recording, and producing everything himself. Originally intended as a solo project with the North Pole Project moniker, Schneeweis later reverted back to his band name (apparently at the label's request), planning to tour the album with a new band of musicians.

Does the album sound like previous Number One Gun projects? Also yes and no, with some welcome changes. The thunderous guitars and Schneeweis' loud plaintive vocal certainly resemble the band's emo-flavored modern rock sound on tracks like "The Massacre" and "Million," though not quite as polished as the last album (produced by Aaron Sprinkle). However, Schneeweis also takes the opportunity as a "solo act" to successfully broaden his horizons with sparser ballads ("I'll Find You," "The Different Ones") and the synth-based pop of "The Best of You and Me."

Like most Tooth & Nail bands, you can find Christian themes here if you want to; much of it is abstract and open to broad interpretation. There's a fairly blatant heart's cry to overcome temptation in "Bad Habits" ("Oh God, where were you when I needed you the most?"). But at the other end of the spectrum is the angrier, more cryptic lyricism of "Thank You Ending"—"Why the hell did you ask if I'm what heaven's hoping for?/Tell me, maybe, what you want with the ending of this life."

If nothing else, it's impressive that Schneeweis is able to successfully carry on this sound himself in the studio (especially the explosive rocker "Find Your Escape"). But then again, there's not much here that's different from similar sounding modern rock acts either, and the disc is barely over 31 minutes long. The North Pole Project lacks the indie rock punch that comes from a collaborative band dynamic, though Schneeweis at least shows greater range as a solo artist.

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