Ranking Anberlin’s Discography


The interesting thing about being a fan of indie labels and indie bands is what to do when a small time band makes it big.  Maybe it’s too early to say that Anberlin “made it”, but they’ve come a long way over the course of five albums.  The question remains, however, do we applaud their success or long for the old days?  Let’s take a look.

#5  New Surrender

To say this was anything less than a “miss” for the band would be to sell a statement short of the truth.  Some will say that this was a huge success thanks to a hit single and pretty good album sales, while others will say it was an artistic travesty.  The reality is somewhere in the middle, as album sales are often based on hype, but this isn’t the total train wreck that some would want to paint the picture into being.  The album starts off well, kind of wanes in the middle, and finishes strong with an enjoyable closer in “Miserabile Visu (Ex Malo Bonum)”.

#4 Blueprints for the Black Market

It is simply amazing that this is a debut release, with the maturity and tightness that the band at such young ages.  Sure, some of the guys had been in a pop-punk band together, named Sagoh 24/7, but that was abandoned for something that would actually last.  This early album is highlighted by youthful angst in songs like “Readyfuels” and “Glass to the Arson”, as well as the ballad “Autobahn”, showing off the pure voice of Stephen Christian, as well as poetic lyricism.

#3 Never Take Friendship Personal

The sophomore output isn’t all that different from it’s predecessor in quality, but amps up the pop feel for a slightly more aesthetically pleasing experience for those who don’t want to work so hard on getting into something.  Highlighted by “Paperthin Hymn” and “A Day Late”, the real benefit from this album for the band comes in the form of the original version of “The Feel Good Drag”, which would later come to be their biggest hit when re-recorded for New Surrender.

#2 Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place

Believe it or not, I did not take points off for the title of the album, which is impossible for me to remember, causing me to look up the title every single time, or refer to it as Dark/Light.  Working with Brendan O’Brien as producer made all the difference, drawing out Christian’s vocals as the center piece, Dark/Light is a pure pop/rock album in the way of the mid-90’s, with the hit song “Impossible” and the follow up single “Closer”, but personally I’m a big fan of the angst-driven “To The Wolves”.  This is their biggest commercial success as far as chart positions go, but that doesn’t mean it quite makes number one in our hearts.

#1 Cities

While you may feel free to disagree, the general consensus (and my own personal opinion) is that this isn’t simply Anberlin’s best album to date, and one difficult to top, but also one of the best albums a Christian band has to offer this generation.  Starting off with one of the few instrumental tracks worth listening to on an alternative rock album, the album segues into the aggressive “Godspeed”, an astonishing opening that sets the pace for a ground breaking album.  The dark mood and lyricism found in Cities pounds through a collection of song explosions, such as “Adelaide”, “The Unwinding Cable Car” and “Dismantle. Repair.”, up until the absolutely epic closer of the indiscernible “(*fin)”

There’s my list, what would yours look like?

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20 responses to “Ranking Anberlin’s Discography

  1. Zsoty27 March 14, 2011 at 12:21 am

    1.)Cities; 2.)Never Take Friendship Personal; 3.)Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place 4.)New Surrender 5.)Blueprints for the Black Market. And Cities is like a 11/10 for me =)

  2. Tyler Hess March 14, 2011 at 12:26 am

    It can only be an eleven if it is your most favorite album of all time. Is it your favorite album ever? If so, I wouldn’t blame you, it’s most def. in my top ten.

  3. Anthony March 14, 2011 at 1:19 am

    1) Cities
    2) Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place
    3) Blueprints For The Black Market
    4) New Surrender
    5) Never Take Friendship Personal

    Just couldn’t get into many of Never Take Friendship Personal’s songs and while I am one of the few who liked New Surrender, Blueprints was better.

  4. Vince March 14, 2011 at 7:19 am

    1) Never Take Frienship Personal
    2) Cities
    3) Blueprints for the Black Market
    4) Dark is the Way, Light is a Place
    5) New Surrender

    Although, I must say Dark/Light is growing on me…slowly, but surely. It will probably switch with Blueprints in the near future. And i have a special place in my heart for “Never Take Friendship Personal”, it was my introduction to Anberlin. I went back and discovered “Blueprints” later.

  5. John Holcomb March 14, 2011 at 7:59 am

    1) Cities
    2) Dark is the Way (props for calling ’em out on the lame album title!)
    3) Blueprints for the Black Market (a boat load of nostalgia is anchored by this record. A newcomer isn’t likely to enjoy it as much as I)
    4) Never Take Friendship Personal

    And that is how I rank the anberlin discog.

  6. Zsoty27 March 14, 2011 at 8:15 am

    “Is it your favorite album ever? If so, I wouldn’t blame you, it’s most def. in my top ten.”
    That’s a very good question. Maybe, or maybe not. =D I can’t decide it so easily. There are a few excellent albums for me like Comatose from Skiilet, Innocence & Instinct from Red, The Silver Cord from The Classic Crime. These records are my christian keystones i suppose. But i just can’t choose which one could be my absolute favorite. Maybe you should creat sometime a post about Your favorite album of all time =) I would be interested in that.

  7. Ben March 14, 2011 at 8:44 am

    What about Lost Songs?? That album has 9 songs that aren’t on any other album, then of course 10 acoustic/alternate versions. I really like Lost Songs too…The Haunting, Uncanny, and Downtown Song are highlights. And also, I’m going to disagree with the majority and say I really like New Surrender.

    1) Cities
    2) New Surrender
    3) NTFP
    4) Lost Songs
    5) Dark/Light
    6) Blueprints

    My favorite song is probably *Fin. I’m actually working on a bagpipe cover of it. ^_^

  8. Ian March 14, 2011 at 10:30 am

    1) Dark is a way, light is a place
    2)Cities
    3)NTFP
    4)New Surrender
    5)Blueprints

  9. Lucas March 14, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Since Anberlin is my favorite band I have no choice but to write a long post…
    5) Blueprints for the Black Market
    This was great for a debut, but it doesn’t compare to their other stuff for me.
    4) New Surrender
    We can all agree this wasn’t their best album, but it was still pretty good. I think the biggest flaw was that there wasn’t a cohesive structure to it…it just didn’t flow. (I have to say Disappear was amazing though)
    3) Never Take Friendship Personal
    This was where I was introduced to Anberlin. The moment I heard Paperthin Hymn I was hooked and it is still quite possibly their best song to date. My ONLY objection with the record was it’s a little too angsty for my tastes.
    2) Dark is the Way, Light is a Place
    Never thought Anberlin would come anywhere close to beating Cities, but I was wrong. Dark is the Way REALLY surprised me. The production is fantastic and this has some of their best songs to date. (that would be Closer and Pray Tell)
    1) Cities
    This is my all time favorite record. The first four tracks especially are four of my favorite songs of ever, but the whole record is just superb from front to back. 11/10. :)

  10. Tyler Hess March 14, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Ben…I don’t count Lost Songs because I am just ranking regular full lengths on these discographies, no B-Side albums, no Christmas albums, no EP’s, etc. Lost Songs surely has some good songs on it, but it doesn’t have the same kind of flow a normal album would…plus I haven’t listened to it as much as the other stuff.

    Lucas…I like angst haha…I’m pretty sure I had that discussion with someone around the time Dark/Light came out

  11. Tyler Hess March 15, 2011 at 2:29 am

    I missed a couple things…

    first…John…i see what you did there. im pretty sure i knew you were of that opinion.

    second…I do plan on doing a “my favorite ten albums” write up

  12. Andy K March 15, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Good List, mine would be the same but I would switch Never Take Friendship Personal with Dark Is The Way, Light Is The Place.

    Tyler, Do you have either of the SAGOH albums? If so, thoughts?

  13. Tyler Hess March 15, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    I do not…my thoughts are…I heard they were terrible and I didn’t want to waste my money on used buying them. Your thoughts?

  14. Ben March 15, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    I have Sagoh’s second album, …Then I Corrupt Youth. Frankly, it wasn’t worth getting the whole album. It’s a punk-ish sound that isn’t anything new, and the only good thing about it is Stephen’s amazing voice. There is one good song, Regrettable Paris, and I think the trend of really long album closers started there with a 15:30 track called Alchemy, which is notable and slightly humorous because Stephen screams some in it. It’s really pretty funny.

  15. Jonathan March 16, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Lost Songs – If you didnt purchase the special edition of Cities, pick this up, otherwise save your money.
    Blueprints for the Black Market – great soft songs but
    Never Take Friendships Personal – great rock songs
    New Surrender – I actually enjoyed this disc, great mix of pop rock, soft rock with classic Anberlin sound
    Cities – one of the greatest “Christian” albums of our time, cover to cover
    Dark is the Way, Light is the Place – this is the album where people could see the modern day U2 band come forth, listen “Take Me” for proof

  16. jthejust March 21, 2011 at 9:01 am

    I agree with this list, except I would switch NTFP with Dark/Light. In my opinion, Dark/Light has the worst lyrics of any of their albums (absolutely no depth), but the music is good enough to keep it at third place.

  17. Tyler Hess March 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    I don’t understand the trash dark light gets for the lyrics, just because they’re repetitive doesn’t mean they aren’t deep, it just means its more pop. i really like the mlkjr references on we owe this to ourselves

  18. jthejust March 29, 2011 at 9:06 am

    I guess that they’re just bad for me compared to the incredibly deep, poetic, and absorbing lyrics of Cities and (to a lesser degree) NTFP.

  19. Tyler Hess March 29, 2011 at 9:08 am

    arent most albums ever worse than cities, though? haha

  20. jthejust March 29, 2011 at 9:14 am

    Totally true. Good point. lol :)

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