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Friday, September 19, 2008

Sanctus Real - Fight the Tide (Sparrow/EMI)

Sounds like … melodic power rock that shares the traits of Foo Fighters, Jimmy Eat World, Weezer, Switchfoot, U2, and PFR.

At a glance … Fight the Tide is not so much a profound artistic statement as it is an enjoyable rock album that is meaningful, catchy, and loud, performed with musical excellence.

Toledo, Ohio's Sanctus Real emerged on the national Christian music scene in early 2003 with Say It Loud, quickly earning widespread acclaim while building considerably on their already strong fan base. Touring relentlessly as far back as their independent days, 2004 promises to be equally busy between the summer music festivals and a high-profile tour with Jeremy Camp.

You'd think such a busy slate would slow down the recording process for Sanctus Real, but that's not the case. The band spent the first couple of months of 2004 quickly writing and recording new material, so one might think Fight the Tide would sound hackneyed or rushed—but it manages to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump. Like the themes at the heart of its songs, the album battles against any complacency or negativity with feel-good charm, offering infectious power pop of the same breed as Foo Fighters, Jimmy Eat World, and Weezer, with splashes of the anthemic (U2, Live) and the Beatle-esque (PFR).

Not to say that Fight the Tide is a brilliant artistic statement. In many ways, Sanctus Real comes across as a less intellectual version of Switchfoot—musically and lyrically. This is a band that likes to convey their faith simply and clearly without using tired spiritual rhetoric. "Things Like You" is inspired by Matthew 6, addressing the material things that distract us from God: "Everyone wants everyone else's everything/Sometimes the more we have the less we really gain/And I'm tired of loving all that money has to buy/Get you out of my heart out of my mind, leaving you behind." James 2 is the source for "Deeds," exploring the relationship between faith and works. "Closer" is a prayer to remain in a daily love relationship with God, and "Message" is a remake of one of their older songs about not being ashamed of the Christian faith.

Interpersonal relationships also play a prominent theme on the album. "Alone" is a simple love song, expressing longing during time away from a significant other, though much of it can also work as a spiritual love song. "The Fight Song" uses heavy power pop to remind us to choose our words carefully and reconcile broken relationships. "Change Me" prayerfully asks the Lord for more humility, patience, and gentleness in fostering these relationships....

Continue Reading at this Christian Music Review

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