rctalk: Anberlin’s ‘New Surrender’

Anberlin are drummer Nate Young, bassist Deon Rexroat, singer Stephen Christian, guitarists Joey Milligan and Christian McAlhaney. Photo by James Minchin, courtesy Universal Republic.

Anberlin | New Surrender

The press kit for Anberlin’s Universal Republic debut, New Surrender, identifies the group as, “one of the truly viable indie-to-major success stories ready to blow in 2008.” Of course, Christian pop fans know you could replace “indie” with “Christian,” and still have an accurate statement.

Anberlin released its first three studio albums and one b-sides package on Tooth & Nail Records, the launching pad for acts such as P.O.D. and Underoath that have easily walked between the Christian and mainstream markets.

080930anberlin-newsurrender Anberlin has done that too, particularly with its 2007 release Cities.

The major label jump finds the Central Florida act as you would expect a band making this transition: sounding as confident, polished and nimble as ever. There is also no dilution of Anberlin’s thoughtful meditations on life and faith, that have rarely been overt but always been challenging to those who took time to listen.

Anberlin is a neopolitan package of sounds from some solid post-punk pop to lovely acoustic-based vocal tracks such as The Unwinding Cable Car, one of the most inventive, sublime cuts on Christian radio in the past year.

New Surrender starts out on an aggressive note with The Resistence and rocks through the brainy and intriguing Breaking. The strongest signal these two songs send is that New Surrender will be owned by the guitarists Christian McAlhaney and Joey Milliagan. Considering they have just been together since the release of Cities, these axe men have become quite a pair in a brief time.

Being a major label debut, this disc does resurrect a previous hit, The Feel Good Drag from 2005’s Don’t Take Friendship Personal. It fits in, but also amplifies Anberlin’s growth, seen in songs such as the symphonic Retrace and Breathe, poppy Burn Out Bright (Northern Lights) and Younglife, and apocalyptic Miserable Visu (Ex Malo Bonum).

New Surrender is an album that immediately starts to grow on you, and rewards repeated listenings with deeper insights and surprises, as well as a lot of fun. It’s exactly what a band reaching out to a wider audience needs.

Also out today: Amy Grant’s Christmas Collection releases today (we’re going to do a Christmas disc roundup soon) as is Newsboys’ Live in Houston. With Tobymac’s live disc, Houston just seems to be the hip place to record in front of a crowd lately.

Speaking of Live, don’t forget Seabird is at UK next Wednesday.We have a story about the Erlanger band coming up this weekend. Also, we reviewed Fireflight last week at Lexington Christian.

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