Saturday, July 4, 2009

Anberlin

Tonight @ U.S. Cellular Stage, Summerfest, 10 p.m.

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Although Anberlin may not be a “Christian band,” its members acknowledge that they are a band of Christians. However subtle or obvious that distinction, one thing is clear: These Floridians manage to wrap their beliefs in savvy lyrics set to intoxicating alt-rock anthems—and if their uplifting messages actually contribute to making today’s kids happier, better-adjusted and more socially conscious, more power to ’em.

“The more I live I see this life’s not about me,” sings Stephen Christian on the U2-like “Burn Out Brighter (Northern Lights),” a memorable song on Anberlin’s latest album, New Surrender. The disc’s lyrics also focus on the importance of family bonds and remembering the homeless, and the band is involved with Faceless International, a nonprofit organization co-founded by Christian to educate the masses about the travesties of human trafficking and other exploitation.

Even back when Anberlin was signed to indie-Christian label Tooth & Nail Records, the band did not sound like its whiny secular peers. Here was a group of young men who, refreshingly, weren’t miserable and pissed off at the world or fixated on sex, drugs, alcohol or violence. Rather, smart lyrics, crisp hooks and an unrelenting sense of purpose permeated Anberlin’s first three albums.

Fortunately, the group’s move to the Universal Music conglomerate for New Surrender didn’t dilute Anberlin’s potency. Christian’s loud, distinct vocals propel this sonic thrill ride, and the band has held its own touring with Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance. Eight years into a remarkably consistent career, these guys show no sign of slowing down.