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when the world is wonderful
Artist: Blisse 
Label: Crucible Records
Time: 12 tracks/50:26 min.

Talented players are a start, but without great songs, an album quickly collapses. when the world is wonderful, the debut effort of Blisse, has both. Three of four band members write tunes for this collection and thatís as it should be. That all contribute with pen is not just charity or the democratic code at work. They all have the gift and on merit, deserve to be heard. 

As with most successful modern rock bands, Blisse is skilled at matching heavy riffs with catchy musical hooks. Their web site lists members influences as Nirvana, Sound Garden, and Pearl Jam, among others. Elements of these bands and even Christian rockís 77ís are part of Blisseís range. Avoiding a pretentious, heavy-handed, hipper than thou delivery may cause some to dismiss Blisse as "light." To the contrary, the acoustic guitar seasoning, emphasis on vocals instead of noisy guitars, and radio-ready motifs should make this music accessible to a wide audience. Call it "light" if you want. Just remember at some point, you may have to concede that itís a "light" that shines.

The lyrics are largely written from the perspective of a baby Christian struggling in the world. Insecurity, regret, loneliness, and fear are recurrent themes. Probably not so coincidentally, these topics are equally pervasive in most human relationships. Whether deliberate or not, cross-over radio air play is achievable with this double-entendre material.

The first song, "Until the World," is a microcosm of the entire album. Out of the chute, it rocks. Just in time for the lyrics, the instrumentation becomes sparse but never loses momentum. The words are personal and vincible. Self-absorbed and prideful, still the writer is contrite and committed to maintaining the relationship forever, come what may:

Until the world wonít turn, till the planets burn, till the sun dies, Iíll be there. Until the heavens come, till this life is done, till the world dies, Iíll be there. 
The chorus stands strong and memorable, just like most of the album. when the world is wonderful was initially released as an EP containing a generous six songs. The full-length c.d. doubles the fun with 12 cuts. If Blisse hits it big, the EP could be a nice collectorís piece, since the tunes are mixed differently than the primary album. 

There is at least one clinker. "Takin Over the World" makes an attempt at an old-time radio, "Winchester Cathedral" sound but just never takes off. To paraphrase Meatloaf, "Eleven out of Twelve Ainít Bad". Iím left with the impression that these young men have spent their life preparing for the moment. Several of the band mates met while working at Starbucks, an appropriate beginning leading to a compilation that is good to the last drop. 

Curt McLey December 18, 2001



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