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9 out of 10
Having let Anberlin's last album "Cities" pass me by somewhat, I was hoping the sheer tenacity and force of 2003's "Blueprints." and 2005's equally fabulous "Never Take Friendship Personal" would still be present three years later on their first major label outing. After a single listen to album opener "The Resistance", I'm far from disappointed. The musicality and musicianship on show here, and indeed throughout the following 12 tracks) is little short of epic, with sharp lyrical delivery as only Stephen Christian does best.
"Breaking" is equally as sharp and hard hitting, but with a far more subtle approach; the yells of "you make breaking hearts look so easy//it seems like you've done this before.." aren't screamed, or even forced, but the raw feeling that Christian evokes here is fantastic and truly reminiscent of all of Anberlin's finest moments from their previous albums.
This high standard seems to continue for the remaining tracks on this album - if I'm not dancing and singing along to the pacier tracks, I'm pondering life and love during some of the slowed down, calmer numbers, "Retrace" probably being the finer of this small number of tracks. Although, hands-down, I'm a much bigger fan of the up-tempo, forceful and passionate songs that Christian and Co. deliver with exceptional talent, the slower and more laid back tracks don't take anything away from the great collection of tracks that 'New Surrender' provides. In a traffic jam this afternoon I was quite easily air-drumming and nodding away to "Disappear" and when low/mid-tempo tracks "Breathe" and "Burn Out Brighter." appeared immediately after, there was no hint of disappointment, only appreciation for the sheer diversity that's on offer here, and also, what true audible delights I've been treated to. This notion is only enhanced when the final two tracks roll around, where things are slowed down quite dramatically, and the whole tone changes somewhat. Whilst these are perhaps not as immediately enticing or engaging as their predecessors, they're still well-crafted songs, and Stephen Christian's vocals are shown-off here at their best.
If I wanted to bore you all, I'd sit and go through each and every track on "New Surrender" and tell you how great they all are in very different ways, but I won't. All I will urge you to do is go listen to this album and hear it for yourself!
1. The Resistance
3. Blame Me! Blame Me!
5. Feel Good Drag
8. Burn Out Brighter (Northern Lights)
10. Haight Street
11. Soft Skeletons
12. Miserable Visu (Ex Malo Bonum)
13. Heavier Things Remain (Graviora Manent)