Your Gateway to Music and More from a Christian Perspective
     Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
SubscribeAbout UsFeaturesNewsReviewsMoviesConcert ReviewsTop 10ResourcesContact Us
About Us

Album Reviews
Concert Reviews

Top 10
Contact Us


The Observatory 
Artist: Cadet
Label: BEC Records
Length: 11 tracks/51:56 minutes

Cadet (no, not the dry cleaners, the band) has recently released their sophomore release titled The Observatory. While it is a little different soundwise from their previous endeavor, it is still a really enjoyable album overall.

The group has left their punk-like sound and has now brought a more rockier adventure for us to enjoy. this is noticable as soon as you pop it in and start listening to ďNobody.Ē However, it only lasts for two tracks and then gets toned down to an acoustic/light-rock sound for a number of ballads in a row. But then it starts picking up again once ďStuck In a SongĒ hits, but this rocky sound sticks around for only a couple of tracks and then the acoustic is back. The acoustic tracks are by no means bad, they are still very enjoyable. Just donít go into the album thinking itíll be rock all of the way through.

A nice feature on the album is the bonus song, which starts at 9:18 into the twelfth (and final) track. Itís a techno song which is so good they should have just made a track or two like it on the actual album instead of hiding it as a bonus one.

In short, The Observatory is a great album. If you are fans of the first Cadet album some of you may be disappointed, but I think the majority of you will like change in flavor. But if you havenít heard Cadetís debut album, and enjoy rock/light-rock music, definitely check the album out if you can. Itís a good one.

Josh McConnell 12/2/2002

Cadet has been known for their entertaining music style and lyrics, thanks to first album (Cadet) and hit single "God Man (Jesus Is My Superhero)." The band continued that reputation with their 2nd release Any Given Day which contained some fabulous covers of worship songs as well. And now Ryan Smith, Chad Basom, Jason Kennedy, and new member (since 2002) Matt Lenhart have come back to carry on in the line of acclaimed albums with their 3rd release, The Observatory.

Compared to the first album, this record has some musical differences. There are still some original Cadet roots, such as catchy guitar work and a touch of humor in some lyrics, but overall the band has definitely progressed notably as instrumentalists and in lyrics. 

Instrumentally this album takes on two different features. On one side, it takes on a heavier edge than any previous work. One can hear it right from the first song, "Nobody," as the chorus hits. It's also apparent in songs like "Change My Name," "Lost in a Song," and "Cry to You." There's more focus on the full, harder guitar sound. They are not as raw and 'garage band' sounding as in previous work. 

On the other side, one has the mellower pieces. There are a number of songs that take on slower tempos and focus more on lyrics than the bold instruments. These songs are by no means boring; they still have quite a catch to them and do feature other instruments, but just not as heavy and full as the other songs. For example: "Today" includes a bit of string work at the beginning and focuses on vocals as it adds quite a bit of harmony, especially in the chorus. "High Tide" is also quite a bit slower. The song basically features a drum and acoustic guitar, but still has a catchy beat. The closer, "Wishing Well," focuses on piano for the most part, which is quite different from previous work, but again has a catchy beat and is overall a fantastic song, and great way to end the album. "Come Alive" is a personal favorite. It is another slower song. It includes a bit of faint orchestral work and muted horns in the background, beautifully sung lyrics, some female backing vocals, and the overall message of the song is striking as he sings:

Glory falls upon a throne, 
it's beauty I have never known. 
I've come alive
I was wrong about you
It's a miracle I'm here. 
I was wrong to doubt you
It's a miracle I'm here. 
Where the hearts are all mended 
and every hope has found its end. 
I've come alive 
Overall it's a fantastic song! 

The album also has some 'in between' songs like "Blame," "Call Me," and "Two Stars," which have more bouncy tempos and make them more reminiscent of first album. They also feature the heavier guitar work previously mentioned, mainly in the choruses. "Call Me" also has that hint of humor in a few lines, especially when he says: 

I think about the times we were losers acting cool 
If you're lonely, then we could T.P., just like we're thirteen.
This is more in the style of their first album; lyrics that overall have a great message and point, but still add that touch of humor that will undoubtedly make you grin. 

The band really brings out their faith and passion to share God's word with a lyrical maturity. Each song has a great message, with various topics thought through. Cadet's mission statement states: "Our band is based on the philosophy that we know we will always be striving to be more like Christ. That is to say that we will never be to the point where we do not need God's grace. It is only because of that grace and love that we are who we are. We understand that God first loved us so that we would love him. Our mission is simply to go out into both the world and the church and declare that loving grace through our songs. With honest struggles, understandings, and submissions anyone may face, they show a maturing relationship with God through their lyrics. This has certainly been an attractive quality to this album.

This album has been spinning in my player over and over. And it just continues to grow on me more and more. So, here are your marching orders: check out Cadet!

Jessica Heikoop 12/11/2002

The 2001 self-titled debut from Eugene, Oregon's Cadet seemed almost like the work of two groups.  On the one hand, songs such as "Precious One" and "Land of the Living" highlighted an outfit well-versed in the subtle intricacies of the achingly sweet, three-and-a-half-minute classic pop odes of artists like the Beach Boys and the Raspberries.  Tracks like "Talent Show" and the equally unimaginative "God-Man (Jesus Is My Superhero)," on the other hand, pointed to a group appropriating only the most obvious sonic trappings of the current-day punk revival movement while missing out entirely on the original genre's boisterous vivacity and infectiously raw-spirited sense of humor.

If the plodding, faux '50s vibe of "Stuck in a Song" and Lenny Kravitz redux of "Cry to You" seem like holdovers from the weaker portions of the first album, the remainder of the new record, The Observatory, finds the Northwestern lads seizing the intermittently glimmering pop spirit that inhabited the first record and polishing it to an eye-striking lustre.  The intricate, arpeggio-driven verses and wall of sound choruses of "Change My Name" invoke REM and Delirious at their most engaging.  Likewise, the rousing alt-rock rhythm and shimmering, Rembrandts-styled vocals of cuts like "Nobody" and "Blame" work as a veritable template for the peaceful coexistence of buoyant pop and driving hard rock on the same disc.  And the stirring juxtaposition of soaring melody and melancholy-tinged wording renders the stand-out cut "Today" as achingly poignant as it is beautiful.

While the uplifting sense of innocence and wonder of the debut is, happily, once again present and accounted for, the new record features a lyrical depth and scope that far outstrips that of the debut.  The inherently joyous "Come Alive" (Rivers sing and shadows shine/ Glory falls/ I've come alive) employs Revelation-inspired imagery to masterfully mine the romantic thread that lies at the heart of the God-to-man relationship.  The more darkly-textured "Wishing Well," by way of contrast, uses a near-stream-of-consciousness approach for its insightful look at the more wistful side of the human experience.  And tracks like "Change My Name" (I left myself and you remain) and the best-of-album "High Tide" (You're a midnight/ Balancing today and tomorrow) feature a poetically-inclined language that manages to be, at once, disarmingly direct and, yet, deeply profound.

Although true pop aficionados will no doubt fumble for adequate superlatives to describe the new release, suffice it to say that the new album carries a weight, coherence and attention to detail that were, quite simply, lacking from far too much of the debut - not to mention a rightful reverence for hook and melody that is only just recently making its way back into the collective rock consciousness.  While the term artistic growth has been bandied about indiscriminately enough over the years to have lost much of its original import, it nonetheless seems the only appropriate label to attach to the giant leap in songwriting taken by the Cadet collective between their debut effort and the new album, which itself stands, with only minor exceptions, as a most glorious example of near-letter-perfect pop music.

Bert Gangl 12/22/2002


 Copyright © 1996 - 2003 The Phantom Tollbooth