Anberlin has bounced around since signing to Universal. They've made both good and bad records and they've done some impressive things... and some not so impressive things. The main thing they've done, and something they can certainly be proud of, is that they've expanded their audience without compromising their integrity. Following up working with Brendan O'Brien on New Surrender the band teamed up with Aaron Sprinkle again to make Vital.
Vital has two qualities that make it the best Anberlin album in years. It's a true album and it sounds like it. Not since Cities has Anberlin created an album that moved like it was supposed to. Vital ebbs and flows from track one to track twelve and it's a comprehensive listen. The other big thing that Vital has going for it is Sprinkle's production. This is the best work that he's ever done and doing it with Anberlin, after years away, has to be special. This might be the best Anberlin record sonically too, something that's an amazing accomplishment when you consider that they worked with Neal Avron and Brendan O'Brien before teaming back up with Sprinkle again.
My favorite part about Anberlin records are the songs that pull you in with equal amounts of sincerity and passion in both music and lyrics. The past two albums had decent songs, but nothing that really pulled you in like the band's Tooth & Nail work. Vital has at the very least five moments like that, and that number will continue to grow as the album exists for a longer amount of time. Long-time followers will like this album more than any other Universal release and this will turn out to be a favorite among newer fans.