RIYLJimmy Eat World
House of Heroes
2. Little Tyrants
3. Other Side
4. Someone Anyone
8. Type Three
10. Modern Age
11. God, Drugs & Sex
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For whatever reason, 2012 has been the year for alternative rock. I’m not talking pretentious, pseudo-shoegaze indie rock; I mean unabashed, stuck-in-the-2000s guitar-driven rock music. House of Heroes and The Classic Crime have already released gems this year, with many other surprisingly good releases from a number of other bands floating around to boot. Florida’s darlings Anberlin are here to show why their inclusion to the greats of 2012 is, ahem, vital.
The band has quite an interesting musical history. Vital marks the sixth release for Anberlin and their third for Universal Republic. Almost every fan and critic of the band is in mutual agreement that the band’s third and last release for Tooth and Nail Records, Cities, is the apex of the band’s career, and once the band swam over to the deeper pockets of major label-dom, the band has lost a bit of their spark. However, there is one connection to be made: Cities was Anberlin’s third release for Tooth and Nail, and Vital is the band’s third release for Universal. The third time seems to be a charm for the band, as Vital may be the best Anberlin has ever sounded.
How good is Vital? The album basically compounds together everything fans loved about the band’s Tooth and Nail days with musical and lyrical maturity of their later days. Anberlin sounds like they have been given the creative freedom to have fun for the first time in ages, as each track exudes a certain energy the band only hinted at with New Surrender and Dark is the Way, Light is a Place. Look no further than the two single the band has released. One could easily attribute that to Stephen Christian. Not only are his vocals stronger than ever, but his decision to utilize more new wave-style keyboards is the band’s secret weapon. Anberlin hasn’t gone all M83 yet, but the keyboards in “Someone, Anyone” almost make the song danceable.
Elsewhere, each track is a winner on its own merit. “Little Tyrants” will likely dictate its way into your skull, as it contains one of the band’s best choruses ever. “Self-Starter” might be the best lead-off track of the band’s history, and Anberlin is known to at least start off every album very well. For those who are drawn to the band’s epic closers, “God, Drugs & Sex” will be happy and pleased.
With everything that was said above, let’s keep things grounded a bit. Vital will not likely convert many new fans to the band. Also, this is still the same band that can get a bit too melodramatic at times, and the instruments will never blow you away. However, Vital is the type of album that was really, (sorry... again) vital for the band’s career. Many have written the band off, saying they had already reached their creative peak with Cities. This sixth album serves as a welcome reminder that Anberlin is not going out with just a whisper and a clamor. Ignite the readyfuels because the band is back.