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  Blueprints for the Black Market
Artist: Anberlin
Label: Tooth & Nail Records (2003)
Length: 11 Songs (7:53)

The natural, and understandable, tendency, when describing any new band is to compare their particular brand of music to that which listeners are most likely to be familiar with.  And, to be fair, such an approach does go some distance towards acclimating the uninitiated to Orlando's Anberlin.  The start-stop rhythms and alternatingly loud and soft passages of "Change the World" do tread ever so lightly into post-grunge territory.  The rousing "Foreign Language," in the same way, could be said to exhibit a certain punk-pop sensibility.  And the celebratory, keyboard-assisted "Autobahn," an engaging tribute to love and the open road, certainly mirrors the sprightly pop textures of the Cure's "Friday I'm In Love."

Obvious points of reference aside, though, the Floridian fivesome's sound is, at its essence, nothing else so much as straight ahead, good, old-fashioned rock & roll.  Indeed, front man Stephen Christian's vocals exhibit just the right balance of gutsy exuberance and pinpoint precision, retaining their accuracy even at the Blueprints album's loudest, most earnest points.  And Christian's cohorts - bassist Deon Rexroat, drummer Nathan Young and guitarists Joey Bruce and Joeseph Milligan - lock together in an airtight supporting unit to lend their fearless leader the sort of imposing, wall of sound backdrop to which Phil Spector would certainly give his ultimate approval.

Christian does fall victim to occasional periods of lyrical triteness, and his animated style of delivery may strike some as slightly over the top.  In light of his band's unrelentingly zealous musical attack, though, the singer's words are perhaps best appreciated as overall sentiments to be felt, rather than treatises to be dissected and analyzed.  And savvy listeners will correctly interpret Christian's intermittent histrionics as the evidence of a vocalist who, more than anything, sincerely believes in that which he sings.  While the quintet's raw aesthetic seems destined to lump them in with rock revivalists like the White Stripes and the Vines, its energy seems to stem not so much from an overweening desire to decry the current state of rock music as it does from a simple and abiding love for the genre.  And, to that end, the group succeeds magnificently - crafting a work of sweeping, melodic, emotional, hook-laden beauty.

Bert Gangl 4/21/2003


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