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‘Never Take Friendship Personal’ was always going to be a difficult album to follow. Dynamic, brilliantly recorded and with a fistful of hard hitting melodic modern rock it remains something of an undiscovered classic. Stephen Christian’s “love them or hate them” helium infused vocals make Anberlin instantly recognisable; something of a feat in this era of homogenised rock and punk ideals. Whilst Christian has been exploring his inner self on the Anchor and Braille project with Aaron Marsh of Copeland it is clear that Anberlin remains resolutely his favoured vehicle. Once again the standard of the playing is of the highest quality throughout, dynamic rhythms and arrangements keep the songs interesting without meandering to far into self indulgent progressive territory. Anberlin get straight down to business on ‘Cities’ with the high octane ‘Godspeed’, only breaking the tempo temporarily with the pop tinged ‘Adelaide’ before thundering into ‘Whisper and Clamour’. Strange song titles and convoluted lyrical passages remain part and parcel of the Anberlin ethos; never more so than on the down tempo Morrisey sound alike ‘The Unwinding Cable Car’ or the live favourite ‘Hello Alone’(formerly ‘The Lesser Thans’). ‘Reclusion’ steers ‘Cities’ in a slightly different direction from its predecessor with huge swirling synthesiser riffs, as does the orchestral balladry of ‘Inevitable’ but Anberlin never stray too far from their signature sound. Once again ‘Cities’ proves that Anberlin remain significantly ahead of the game.Tooth and Nail may well be the largest and most successful Christian record label, but that won’t stop the major labels trying to prise away the jewel in their crown. Mainstream success surely beckons.


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