Christian alt-rock group Anberlin released their sixth album Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place featuring their well-received single, “Impossible,” which came out two months ago.
This album generally sustains the pop rock sound created in their 2008 album, New Surrender, but also showcases musical concepts Anberlin has experimented with in their earlier history. At times, this translates to acoustic spiritual numbers reminiscent of work on Lost Songs, and other times persistent electronic guitar lines sure to please fans of Cities.
The new album, however, shows listeners that while the band has not drastically changed the way they make music, they have taken what they know, modified it, and made it better.
Each song has a decisive Anberlin sound but with a new twist. While “Impossible” has a familiar and lyrically sparse chorus, it wins over listeners with an infectiously catchy melody and bouncy backbeat that bears repetition — the vampy rock song “To The Wolves” resembles the sound of a younger Anberlin but has more raw vocal energy, and even acoustic ballads like “Down” seem to pack more punch.
Thematically, Anberlin’s latest effort takes a darker turn, brimming with internal spiritual struggle strung together by biblical allusions and unanswered questions. This change is subtle on their pop tracks but prevails throughout songs like “Pray Tell,” a song that is strikingly different from anything the band has ever done.
Arguably the most interesting song on the album both rhythmically and melodically, “Pray Tell” features experimentation with minor keys, an authentically emotive chorus and a rhythmic introduction that borders on the tribal. Other standout tracks include “To The Wolves” and “Depraved” which also play with minor keys, religious lyrics and dramatic transitions.
By and large, Anberlin is keeping to the emotive, pseudo-pop style that has become their signature, yet it is easy to see that seeds of new musical ideas and a dramatic new sound have been planted.