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Turn Off the Stars

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2006 1 Aug
Turn Off the Stars
Sounds like … the familiar Brit pop/rock sound of the last decade established by the likes of Coldplay, Leeland, Delirious, Starsailor, and Snow PatrolAt a glance … though Turn Off the Stars comes close to being pegged as another Coldplay rip-off, they manage to hold their own with a strong polished sound and subtle-yet-clear lyricism inspired by their faithTrack Listing I Wasn't Ready Please Falling Into You Hours & Days 30 Days Getaway Nowhere Skies Lately Usual to Me If Only Brightside

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then there's no band more revered today than Coldplay, except perhaps U2. Truth be told, we need another Brit rock-influenced band (with mastery of that "Clocks" triple pulse rhythm) about as little as another worship band with stadium rock praise songs derived from "Where the Streets Have No Name." But when done right, with enough panache and vibrancy to avoid sounding derivative, there's always room for another follower.

Presenting Turn Off the Stars, a Toronto quartet whose self-titled debut is rendered with enough skill, confidence, and polish to regard them as Coldplay's little brother. The similarities are unavoidable—Michael Walker's nasal vocal with falsetto reminiscent of Chris Martin; "Please" and "Lately" rhythmically comparable to Coldplay's "Shiver" and "White Shadows," respectively; even a kindred passion for world issues and social justice. Yet I'd be lying if I said that TOTS didn't pull it off with impressive sophistication, from the elegant swell of "Getaway" to the acoustic simplicity of "Brightside." It's like what might have been had Coldplay continued to emphasize guitars over piano after Parachutes, with swirling keyboards still padding the sound much like X&Y.

Praise also for Credential's continued commitment to finding bands (like Dizmas and Edison Glass) that aren't obviously Christian on the surface, yet clearly inspired by their faith once you dig into the lyrics. TOTS offers themes of soul restoration ("I Wasn't Ready," "Getaway"), surrender ("Falling Into You"), world-changing love ("30 Days"), and answers beyond our understanding ("Lately") that all subtly reveal where they're coming from spiritually.

Is there room for growth? Could the lyrics benefit from deeper exploration of faith in the real world? Does TOTS need to develop a more distinctive musical identity? Yes on all counts, but merely tagging this band as the Christian equivalent to Coldplay doesn't do them justice. Turn Off the Stars holds its own with a strong, self-assured sound that (barely) avoids coming across as a rip-off or copycat.

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