In the past I've had a hard time when it comes to listening to Abel's music, mostly because of the extremely blatant and over-the-top Christian lyrics (see my comment in Decoy's review of The Honest Love). The underlying music was always a very competent emo/indie blend that's usually easy on the ears--inoffensive, measured dynamics, and just enough differentiation to stand slightly above background music. Those lyrics, though, were just too much to get past.
On Make It Right, Abel has matured greatly, shedding some of their tendencies to be simplistic songwriters and stick to overtly preachy lyrics. That's not to say they don't sometimes revert to some of these tendencies, but even from the outset when listening to "I'll Be Waiting" you know that this is a different band as they have a newly found edge to their music; there's a fury there that wasn't there before.
After the solid opening, "Fire Walk With Me" comes across as possibly one of the best songs on the album. Starting off with a chanted beginning, the song is able to capture the Christian beliefs of the band without being too cheesy, let's the band create a catchy indie emo vibe, and still introduces some southern flavor to the whole thing. If any song demonstrates how much this band has grown up, this is it.
In growing up, Abel also hearken back to the good ol' days of the early 00's emo scene where bands like Further Seems Forever, The Juliana Theory, and Jimmy Eat World reigned supreme. You can hear hints of each throughout the album at different points. Abel never directly rip off these stalwarts, but they are easily identified as influential components that guided the direction, whether blatant or not, of where Abel have traveled.
What keeps them from being mere clones is a combination of infusing their songs with an easy-going, southern, pop-rock component while also pulling in some minor, modern, post-hardcore tics. These tics mostly revolve around some of the more aggressive moments, like on the aforementioned opening track, or on "Fine Lines," or "Daughter," where they sometimes feel natural… but not completely in the band's wheelhouse quite yet. They add some much needed dynamics, but sometimes pull you away from the feel of the rest of the album.
It deserves mentioning one last time--these guys have definitely grown up, demonstrating that in some cases a band simply needs time to get to a point where they are confident, experienced, and mature enough to put forth a solid album. Abel are now a follow-up album away from cementing themselves as masters of this genre.