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  The Light of Things Hoped For
Artist: Brave Saint Saturn 
Label: Tooth & Nail Records
Time: 16 tracks / 51:58

Five Iron Frenzy is disbanding after this yearís touring, so itís good to see that Brave Saint Saturn, the side project of Frenzy members Dennis Culp, Reese Roper, Keith Hoerig, and Andrew Verdecchio is still going strong. With the release of sophomore project The Light of Things Hoped For, BS2 shows growth while still staying close to the formula that made their debut, So Far From Home, somewhat of a cult classic.

The framing story is more cohesive this time around. Apparently the USS Gloria, carrying Culp, Roper, Hoerig, and Verdecchio, was preparing to return from a three-year trip to study the planet Saturn when it lost contact with Mission Control (voiced by former labelmate Justin McRoberts).  The songs that follow come from the spacecraft as the astronauts reflect on life, love, and home.

Much of So Far From Home came out of Roperís breakup with his fiancée , and this theme comes through in the honest, bitter "Enamel," where Roper sings lines like "when you hear this song I hope it hurts," "enamel, like insect shells, so hollow, like your wedding bells," and "I hope you cannot sleep, and I hope you cannot smile / and I hope that you are burdened with your guilt for quite a while / I hope you fall in love, but I hope your plans are thwarted." However, the very next track, "Anastasia," is a hopeful love song as Roper confesses "When I look and see her standing there, Iím all butterflies inside."

Emotional honesty is the crux of Light, with couplets like "Thereís nothing like complete exhaustion / the atrophy of complete defeat," "My heart is cold and black / but I just donít think I care," "I sometimes think I donít believe at all / Iíve never felt so fake, so false, Iím such a lie," and "Iím sickened by compassion, Iím stifled by my limitations / anesthetic apathy, come take the pain away."

The music follows the guitar-pop formula set by its predecessor, with minor variations throughout. Four spoken-word tracks advance the story and follow the journey of the Gloria as it struggles to return home. And the liner notes feature graphic-novel type artwork by Roper himself.

The story and album comes to a climax with "Daylight," which gave me chills the first time I heard it. Not only is it the best-played song on the album, "Daylight" gives us the fate of the Gloriaís crew and a passionate Roper pouring out his heart to his Savior. A stunning end to a solid album.

John Wilson 4/3/2003

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