First Impressions: Abandon Kansas – Ad Astra Per Aspera
January 25, 2011Posted by on
Somewhere between the Summer of 2009 when they released their label debut EP titled “We’re All Going Somewhere” and the day after they released the single “The Golden State” off of their first full length on Gotee Records, Ad Astra Per Aspera, the band Abandon Kansas went from an above average also ran with solid potential to one of the most anticipated releases of 2011. It may have had something to do with my favorite song off of the EP, “I Wonder If It’s Me”, being played incessantly on the radio that I listen to at work. It is just as likely that the single itself showed the vast improvement of the band’s sound in that amount of time, with lead vocalist Jeremy Spring’s voice sounding full and soulful on the single (which proves to not be a fluke with the full album). It could also be that when I saw them about a year ago that I fell in love with the t-shirt that I bought from them that I had to toss away because I lost too much weight since then for it to not look really stretched out. Really, it could be any of those things, but here we are and I finally get a chance to sit down and listen Ad Astra Per Aspera and it doesn’t disappoint, not even for a second.
The album starts off with “Heaven Come My Way” and could easily be the anthem of my own life as of late, which Abandon Kansas seems to have a knack for with their traveling life not feeling all that different from what God has been doing in the life of my wife and I in our own ventures of faith, as Spring takes courage for their calling in knowing that God is there to aid them. It doesn’t take long, either, to notice that Abandon Kansas has reverted ever so slightly back to their pop sound and mixed it with the indie rock that they were going for not that long ago and melded them together for a sound that combines both artistic merit and hooks to keep the kids lining up for shows. This is evident in the second song, “Liar”, which if I had to guess has something to do with God talking to the band about seeking His approval over the fans affection, as the lyrics denote “Cause youʼre starving for their attention/And youʼre begging for their approval/They might say they love you/But tomorrow theyʼll be gone”.
Looking ahead a bit, if you haven’t heard “The Golden State” yet, you should, because it is (for once) a single that actually encapsulates what an album is all about and the current state of the band, even if the song threatens the livelihood of much of my family and friends. “Where Else Can We Go” might be the most raw and emotional song with lyrics that bring pain and comfort out within the same breath, but might not be the easiest sell of a song on the album as it’s a lot less polished than some of the other songs. I guess this is a first impressions thing and not a full review, so maybe I shouldn’t list every song on the album, but I think you’re getting the idea here.
Abandon Kansas is generally the type of band with songs that kind of have to grow on me in the first place, so the fact that I am enjoying Ad Astra Per Aspera as much as I am on day one of hearing it, that should mean good things for a band that just vaulted themselves up in my mind’s “favorites” list overnight as a serious contender for my year end top 10 list.
One last thing, because I bet you’re asking, it means “Through hardships to the stars”.