Anberlin - Lost Songs
Record Label: Tooth & Nail Records
Release Date: November 20, 2007
Anberlin are a band driven by hope and desire. The February release of their latest full length, Cities, was met with dual acclaim from fans and critics alike due to its combination of arena-rock-meets-pop inspired songwriting. Not soon after, a rapid buzz spawned around the Orlando based five piece, comprised of lead vocalist Stephen Christian, guitarists Joseph Milligan and Christian McAlhaney, bassist Deon Rexroat, and drummer Nathan Young. Now, not even a year later, the band has served up another helping of alluring tracks in the form of Lost Songs, a b-sides album featuring rarities and previously unreleased tracks.
The album commences with “The Haunting,” a track released prior to Cities as an iTunes exclusive. The song is breathtaking to say the least, and I’m surprised this track didn't make Cities. A dichotomy based around the change from the gentle acoustic driven verses to a powerful chorus, Christian's distinct voice and the pounding of the skins by Young leaves the listener astonished and grappled by the sheer brilliance of the piece. In pursuit of “The Haunting” is “Uncanny,” a song featured as a bonus track on Cities. Fairly, the song obviously didn’t make the cut for the final record. Nonetheless, it isn’t all that bad due to the catchy guitar hook written by Milligan. However, not every track on Lost Songs is original. Anberlin’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” is a definitive departure from the original and offers a fresh take on the classic song, this time featuring distorted guitars and driving drums alongside of a modern, cleaner production. Christian’s vocals even start to sound like Dylan’s atop the the famous lyrics “How does it feel to be without a home / Like a complete unknown / Like a rolling stone.” Another remake which occurs later in the record, this time of Radiohead’s "Creep," shows Christian’s vocal ability to change from folk inspired to opera like, displaying an impressive vocal range from low to high, especially in the denouement of the song. Apparently, Anberlin show a great respect for Depeche Mode as well, covering both "Enjoy the Silence," which appeared on Punk Goes 90s, and “The Promise,” another Cities b-side. Comparatively, “Enjoy the Silence,” is the better of the two and showcases Milligan’s guitar aptitude and Young’s bruising style of drum-playing.
No b-sides record would be complete without acoustic remakes. Both “Dismantle. Repair.,”and “Naive Orleans,” from Cities and their 2003 release of Blueprints for the Black Market, respectively, are the best, with “Dismantle. Repair.” leaving the listener grasping his headphones with the sheer suspense the song possesses, and finding Christian reaching out to touch the very heart of the listener on “Naive Orleans,” musing “I finally found that life goes on without you / That the world still turns when you’re not around.” The acoustic version of the single “A Day Late” from 2005’s Never Take Friendship Personal is also another solid track, slowing down the pace from the original and switching the focus from intensity to melody. Unfortunately, acoustic versions of “Unwinding Cable Car,” and “Inevitable,” recorded during the band's AOL sessions, aren’t as good as the originals, but are still enjoyable to hear stripped down from the clean production of Cities. Continuing, “Baby, Please Come Home” is a wonderful yuletide rock song, and immediately brings back the sensations of Christmastime upon first listen.
Finally, the album closes with demo versions of “Ready Fuels” and “Driving (Autobahn)” from Blueprints for the Black Market, followed by the unreleased track Everything In Between. All these songs offer interesting insight to the evolution of songwriting and show the listener just far Anberlin have come since their inception in 2002.
Although a few tracks may be disappointing, as a whole, Lost Songs has plenty of bang for the buck, offering up several good acoustic versions of previously released songs and one of the best songs Anberlin have ever written in “The Haunting.” Although some of these songs can be found in one form or another on other records, it is still nice to have a record that comprises all of the tracks onto one compilation.
Recommended Tracks: "The Haunting," "Enjoy the Silence," "Dismantle. Repair" (acoustic), "Naive Orleans" (acoustic)