What am I doing here? Trying to make it last forever, I suppose.
It has been nearly 2 years since my beloved Anberlin released their very last album. And yet, I don’t think I’ve stopped listening to them in the slightest. While I technically was a bit late in the game in being introduced (by my Sis-In-Law) to their music (it was the release of New Surrender I think – age 13-14), they still got me through the fun, awkward, and best forgotten teen years. Their consistent musical genius, creative writing, morally uplifting and challenging messages (occasionally teetering on the edge of Christian themes/pointers), and fantastic vocals from lead singer Stephen Christian always made them superior to others. Since they hold such a special place in my heart, I knew that making a Top 10 List for them was Inevitable (*wink*).
Before we plunge right in, please know that making a Top 10 was an excruciating and near torture-filled assignment. Here are some beautiful, catchy, and awesome Honorable Mentions that all JUST missed the mark (in fact, I had enough material to make an Honorable Mentions to the Honorable Mentions…but I had to stop somewhere):
Godspeed, Other Side, Depraved, Haight St. Dismantle. Repair, Stranger Ways, Never Take Friendship Personal, IJSW, Time and Confusion, Art of War, Armageddon, Oh, and who could forget (The Symphony Of) Blasé? (I could go on forever *sobs*).
Ugh, that was difficult. So now, without further ado, here are the Top 10 Songs of my all-time favorite Rock Band, Anberlin.
10. Paperthin Hymn
Definitely a favorite of mine to sing along with live at their concerts, or just blare in your car and scream with. This anthem of desperation and pleading resonates on so many levels. It is both in frustration, sadness, and just plain awesomeness.
9. Naïve Orleans
One of their more subtly brilliant songs in their repertoire. It is one of those that just edges between fun and easy listening, while also presenting itself as deeply personal and even somber. The abnormal care free mood that they paint is something that is truly fun and memorable, while realizing one can move on in life from a tragic moment/individual.
When Anberlin nearly went Pop, their fans all but up-roared. And while the marked album of New Surrender left much to be desired, I for one gave it more credit than most. Being a big fan of the more “mainstreamed” songs of Haight St. (which I thoroughly enjoyed), Disappear, and of course, Breaking. It definitely was Anberlin’s rendition of a main streamed, near poppy, emotional break-up tune. Yet, there is still something about this that I’ve yet to shake 8 years later…
7. The Unwinding Cable Car
For many, this is the pinnacle for which Anberlin exists. And while it might be true, it also goes to show you just how fantastic they are that their most popular track can be ranked so low. Still, this acoustically slow-paced gem embarks on an emotion filled adventure that many hold dear for good reason. The picture of near defeat is a place we’ve all been, but Stephen’s reminder (in almost a deity-type encouragement) pushes for you to never let go of life or your purpose.
When the beloved Vital album came out, it was a boost of energy and come back for Anberlin. The more rock, and electronic centered CD was reminiscent of earlier days with them. But, on a personal level, there was a bit of a pacing problem, mainly with the first half. The great and catchy rock songs needed some spacing in order to truly be appreciated; and so, Devotion was released. The deluxe version essentially reconstructed the great album, and made it perfect in nearly every manner. No song better brought the album together than Unstable; a slow, mysterious, and sleek song that just made the whole shebang work!
When the perfect balance of pop, rock, cool, fun, and treachery are blended together, then you have Impossible. Having just come off the mediocre New Surrender, something needed to change. So, the well scoped out, yet bleak Dark Is The Way, Light Is The Path was just what the doctor ordered. And while this album was largely dark and soul searching, the devastating, yet catchy, enjoyable, and sarcastic look at a sick relationship was a perfect addition to the albums track-list.
4. Modern Age
As was said before, Vital definitely breathed new life into Anberlin; making them a cool rock band yet again. And while there are many fantastic rock ballads on the acclaimed album, it is actually the more sentimental and harmony pleasing rock finale that I find myself drawn to time and time again. This inspiring, emotional, and spine tingling single is one that is bolstered by beautiful lyrics, chilling falsettos, and an epic musical experience. All in all, a timeless classic from the brilliant crew near the end of their run!
As is to be expected, these final entries will be among the most iconic and nostalgic filled options we can collect. What better one to mention than Anberlin’s classic, vivid, and breathtaking turn presenting a romance song? The imaginative and innocent track pondering the past, and desiring to spend the rest of your future with a special someone is perfection. While I admit that I tried to play cool and dismiss it when I first heard it as a 14 year old, I have concluded that fighting such feelings is a losing game…
2. The Feel Good Drag
It is everything you never knew you wanted in a rock song. Yet, still Anberlin tackled a more mature, straightforward, and relevant theme than is usually approached in the slightly-Christian based industry. In this grandiose anthem, we see Stephen describing the faults involved with individuals who make the tragic mistaking of committing an affair. He touches on the dissatisfying lust, the vial deception, and ultimately the disconnect in any healthy relationship that will ensue if you commit this deed. Strung together by some of the coolest guitar work, the grittiest vocals, and the most sincere emotion. All this results in not only their greatest rock anthem of all time, but possibly the greatest in (my version of) history!
Oh, what a conclusion. This could be your thoughts at the end of listening to the fantastic Cities album, it could be at the end of the magnificent spectacle of seeing Anberlin perform live, or, it could just be the musings of someone stumbling upon such a mesmerizing work of art that is (*Fin). While the song may not initially standout too high in a crowd upon first observation, time only confirms that magnitude of this beautiful balled. Within the song, we find the many entangled and multi-layered tales of a man who is truly fighting with his position of faith. Not knowing to turn from it because of the hypocrisy and evil in this world. The haunting, devastating, and mind numbing admonition and question as to whether we are nothing more than “lost causes” is something that cuts to the quick. Yet in this poem of anguish, we find that ultimately hope can’t be found in mankind, but rather in Someone far more fundamental. The tension filled intro, the rock heavy bridge, the heart pounding elision with the choir children, and the somber conclusion all leave me in goosebumps 9 out of 10 times. In short, stealing the words from Anberlin, it is truly their “masterpiece.”
Like I said, a near impossible assignment, but I stand by my choices. This band has meant so much to me for so many years, and I don’t see myself fading from their tunes anytime soon. Were there any I just couldn’t have got worse? Please let me know in the comments section, and thank you for reading! Please come again for more devos, reviews, and lists.
P.S. Alan Walker’s new single titled “Faded” has been on repeat for me recently. Go check it out!