Monday, January 31, 2005

Anberlin - Never Take Friendship Personal CD Review

Back in college there was always one sure-fire way to tell the difference between members of the freshmen class and those who were upperclassmen simply on how the basis of how a person looked. In early morning classes there was a big difference in how people dressed. If you saw someone walking into class dressed to the hilt, wearing make-up (if you were a girl), having perfect hair, and sporting the latest designer trends, that person was guaranteed to be a freshman. Anyone getting up hours before class to polish up their looks to near perfection hadn’t yet become accustom to staying up late, shooting the shit with your neighbors, partying, missing out on sleep, and waking up only just in time to stroll into class a minute or five late, dressed simply in jogging pants and a t-shirt. Both forms of dress were functional and kept a person dressed, but one was much more attractive than the other.

Anberlin’s sophomore effort shares a lot in common with a college freshman—Never Take Friendship Personal is so glossy that you can’t help but notice it. They got up hours before class started to get this release as clean and perfect looking as it is. Each guitar lick, every drum roll, every bass line, and each vocal passage has been polished so many times over that I’m surprised that I didn’t go blind when I looked at the cd.

I brought up the college analogy not only to illustrate the shine that this cd has, but also to emphasize the attractiveness this cd will hold for most rock fans. Sitting in class, who would you be more likely to notice, the hot girl wearing tight jeans, a revealing shirt, and having her hair draped around her face just so perfectly or the girl in the back wearing a baggy sweatshirt with her hair pulled back into a pony tail? I’m betting 99% of the time, your eyes are going to be drawn to the girl who took the time and effort to make herself look good. Instead of just making another run of the mill modern rock cd, Anberlin decided to go the extra mile this time around in terms of production and polish, making this cd a shining example of the magic that can be pulled off in the studio.

For some, however, this will also be a turnoff of gigantic proportions. Anyone who craves the raw sound of a band recording their cd live and leaving it that way won’t find anything to like on this disc. Listening to it might, in fact, cause convulsions and seizures from the utter lack of anything resembling a live sound. Looking beyond the production values, though, it is hard not to want to sing along with each song or to not get caught up in the beautiful melodies throughout. Complementing the tender, yet strong, vocals are thick modern rock guitar licks—not thick as in meaty, but thick as in filling. You won’t find any distorted, heavy guitars on here. No sir, it’s all slick radio friendly guitars on this disc.

Even as it possesses so many catchy rock songs, this disc still has one flaw, and that flaw is a very serious one—there is nothing groundbreaking or original to be found on it. Anberlin have simply tweaked their sound from their last album, added some newfound maturity to the mix, and produced the hell out of it. For this reason, I have a hard time seeing this album staying in my stereo 6 months down the line, even if I can’t seem to get it out of my stereo now. You definitely can’t go wrong by picking up this cd, but don’t be surprised when it’s fallen by the wayside a few months down the line.

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