Catchy, edgy, hook laden enough to please pop fans, but with just enough drive to feel like a "rock" album too, the record is precision-tooled to provide radio success.
The Reunion Records debut, self-titled album from pop-rock four piece Anthem Lights is a perfect distillation of where Christian Music is at as 2011 heads towards its autumn. Catchy, edgy, hook laden enough to please pop fans, but with just enough drive to feel like a "rock" album too, the record is precision-tooled to provide radio success. This has already been achieved with the singles "Can't Shut Up" and "I Wanna Know You Like That", two of the strongest cuts here, both providing strong showings for the band. Building on their summer stint on the Rock and Worship Roadshow Tour (with MercyMe, Jars of Clay and others) shouldn't be a problem for this talented band on the basis of this strong first effort.
Produced by the Write Brothers (Newsboys, Me in Motion etc) and Rob Hawkins (Fireflight, Chasen) every song here has the potential to be a radio hit. The songs are exceptionally well put-together, with a strong mix of electronic pop elements and live instrumentation, all topped off with brilliant vocal performances, and complex harmonies.
Later on, "Freedom into Slavery" takes things down a touch, with a strong message about making the most of our freedom in Christ, before moving things in an almost power-ballad direction, which was a surprise to these ears at least! Following this we come to the slow-burning closer "Where the Light Is" builds on the feeling of versatility which pervades this album. This is music which follows the current Christian Music (with capitalization) trend towards Big Pop (in the vein of One Republic etc). And here is the problem with this album.
Anthem Lights is a good album. It's probably a far better than good album. Some of the talent and performances on show here indicate a group of guys who have greatness in them. Sadly, however, while the songs in and of themselves are of a very high quality, it's difficult to distinguish the tracks on this record from much of the other new releases which seem to be flooding the Christian market these days. I sincerely hope that Anthem Lights find a unique musical voice for themselves in the coming years. For now they are certainly a band to watch, and I can well imagine they have the potential to be brilliant live. Check them out.