September 30, 2008
The album opens with The Resistance, a steady alternative rock song, which fits right in the band’s tradition. The vocals are powerful and passionate while the guitar work is solid and provides a steady sound. The bass, however, steals the show on this track, as it is not only played to perfection, it’s basically what ties this song together. Good start!
On the 2nd track we hear the introduction of keys in a song that has an addictive guitar loop and drums that give this tune a certain catchiness. The build up of the song is quite strong, but sometimes it sounds a little rushed. The vocals are powerful as always, but Breaking doesn’t ‘dazzle’.
Blame Me! Blame Me!
Blame Me! Blame Me! is a good song with a pretty catchy chorus, but I get the feeling that the band is holding back slightly. I’m waiting for that burst of energy and powerful music. The tempo is good and everything is done well, and maybe I’m just expecting too much, but I’ve seen what this band can do first-handed and I know they can nail this song even better.
The slower-paced Retrace leads into a song that has one of the best build-ups in Anberlin history. Lyrically it might not be the band’s prime song, but the interaction between the rhtyhm in the sophisticated songwriting and the melodic lines in the vocals are excellently played out. And for Anberlin’s standards this song is pretty mainstream-oriented. It could go on radio and do them a lot of good publicity-wise.
Feel Good Drag
Feel Good Drag is the lead single for “New Surrender”. The song appeared on “NTFP” in a previous carnation. Back then I said it was a good song that needed some more work and it seems the guys in Anberlin didn’t completely disagree with me. The song has been cleaned up, re-recorded and everything’s just a lot tighter and more precise, which makes the song a whole lot catchier too. Now it sounds like a killer rock radio single, which it will undoubtably become.
The album continues with its most uptempo song. Disappear reminds me of Hello Alone sometimes, but this song is better. Tighter, better interaction, and more powerful guitars. Disappear would also make one heck of a live song, if you’d ask me.
Anberlin does something we’re not used to hear from them on this next song. Breathe is an alternative song with a large indie feel to it. The guitars are tuned down and the melodic side of the band can take front stage. On songs like these you can hear the songwriting qualities this band holds inside them. Both musically and lyrically this is a really strong track that shows the diversity of Anberlin as one of alternative rock’s crown jewels.
Burn Out Brighter (Northern Lights)
On Burn Out Brighter, Anberlin brings together the best of two worlds because they show their quality melodically as well as their talent for getting a song underway with powerful, uptempo vocals and guitar work. The song features some great hooks and would be a worthy 2nd radio single for “New Surrender”
There is a bit of British Influence and maybe even a little pop influence on Younglife which is an extremely catchy song that features a different side of Anberlin. I’ve always been a rock-solid fan of Anberlin’s energetic power-rock, but lately I’ve come to realize that their more melodic and mainstream side really has a lot of quality in it and I’ve come to really appreciate this songs. Younglife is probably the best example of that. The song is really dynamic and would do well in the charts with the proper promotion.
Haight St. is probably my favorite on “New Surrender” with it’s catchy alternative rock. The rounded edges of the song give it a danceable beat and make it extremely fit for radio. The vocals are top notch and the song leaves it impossible for you to sit still while you subconciously start to sing along (and the clapping is perfect). Without a doubt one of the band’s best songs to date. A true tribute to this landmark of music (Haight St., San Fran)!
This is another excellent song where the band varies between tempo, melody, intensity, loudness like only they can. They show they are a band that can’t just write a great song, but also knows how to present it to the world. Soft Skeletons would make for a great set closer too, in my opinion.
Miserabile Visu (Ex Malo Bonum)
The closing track, with its slightly symphonic influences at times, lasts for over 6m30 but when you listen to this song you have no idea that it’s that long. Before you know it the whole song’s over and you’re like, hey was that 6m? The song nestles in your head and lets you experience it to the fullest extent. Maybe not Anberlin’s best work but definitely deserving a gold star and a great way to end this album.
“New Surrender” does a good job of rivaling “Cities” for my favorite Anberlin album. There is definitely growth in several aspects and this album is one the band can be proud of. Feel Good Drag comes out so much better than on “NTFP” and gems like The Resistance, Breathe & Haight St. are tracks to hold on to. Anberlin meets up to the expectations, because after listening to “New Surrender” I’m very hungry for more!