It's been three years since we last heard from FM Static, so if you're a fan of their brand of pop punk, you've probably been eagerly anticipating their new album. Well, the wait is over. Dear Diary has arrived and it might not only meet, but is likely to exceed your expectations.
Instead of just being a random assortment of lighthearted punk songs, Dear Diary is strictly a concept album. And unlike some other concept albums, the story is straightforward and easy to follow. In addition to the song lyrics, the liner notes contain extended "diary entries" for each song that help to fully develop the story.
As the album starts, we find that we're listening to the thoughts of a high school boy who has just moved to a new town. He has decided to keep track of what goes on in his life by keeping a diary. The story then progresses through some high school drama that is fairly typical initially. In "The Unavoidable Battle of Feeling on the Outside," we find our high school hero dealing with feeling like an outsider and then receiving assurance from God that he just needs to stick it out. In "Boy Meets Girl (And Vice Versa)," he meets a girl who is apparently not only stunning, but is also a Christian. This particular track is mostly just intentionally exaggerated statements about the girl's beauty, some of which are amusing. The story continues on, but escapes the risk of being cheap as we find an unexpected tragedy occurring later. This tragedy shakes the world of both the storyteller and the girl he has befriended, and leads to some fairly deep thoughts on both life and God. In the end, everything is pretty happy and hopeful, which is only appropriate for a pop punk album.
The music is, of course, quite fun. We hear catchy hooks, appropriately grinding guitars, and a little bit of hip/hop thrown in on "Man Whatcha Doin'?" But no worries if you're thinking the entire album will just be fluff. As the story gets heavier, the music gets more sensitive. The tone starts to get serious on "The Voyage of Beliefs," where both the boy and the girl (vocalized by Tricia Brock of Superchick) contemplate the need to establish their own beliefs and not depend on their parents. Then the mood drops significantly with the pinnacle of the tragedy, "Her Father's Song," which is slow and heartfelt. "Take Me As I Am" continues the mood and leads into "Dear God," which starts out slow and builds into a catchy, uplifting chorus that has vocalist Trevor McNevan reaching high into his falsetto voice. Finally, "The Shinding (Off To College)" brings everything back to where it started, with an unmistakably danceable chorus. This particular track is also possibly the only Christian song to ever mention Pink Floyd and Def Leppard.
The guys in FM Static have really hit a home run with this release. Every song on Dear Diary is good, and most of them are great. There is naturally plenty of pop punk energy and lightheartedness, but there are also some truly serious moments and a consistently God-focused message. Put all of this together, and you have an album that no fan of the band or the genre will want to miss out on.- Review date: 4/5/09, written by Timothy Estabrooks of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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