For the first five tracks, Stellar Kart's third release Expect the Impossible seems destined to be a fun but less-than-memorable pop-punk album. The first half of the project doesn't bring much that hasn't been heard before. Perhaps the best example is the album's first single, "Jesus Loves You." After the huge success of the single "Me and Jesus" on Stellar Kart's sophomore album, the studio apparently green-lighted this sequel. Unfortunately, as with most sequels, it can't rise to the level of its predecessor, and comes off as little more than a money-making gimmick.
To the band's credit, the album's first half is catchy and fun overall. It doesn't take many risks, but at the same time never loses its footing. "Innocent" and "Automatic" start things off with some rock flavor before "The Right One" and "Sunshine" pour on the pop punk. Stellar Kart knows how to make this kind of music in their sleep, and it shows.
Then, just as I was ready to dismiss this album as standard fare, out of nowhere came "Pray," a surprisingly strong ballad that towers over all that precedes it. It's energetic, sincere, and just a bit desperate. But it's a good desperation as shown in the lyrics, "You feel you may have fallen too far / But even if / You don't know the right words to say / Pray / Sit back and watch the scenery change / Hold on to the promise that help is on the way." Ian Eskelin, who also produced the band's previous album, makes his presence clear on this song and through the rest of the album.
The band really rocks out on the following track, "Shine Like The Stars." The unique "Eyes" is next, featuring a catchy synthesizer groove a la Van Halen's "Jump." "I Give Up" follows with an excellent blend of rock-and-roll and the band's standard punk sound; it's unfortunate that this level of creativity was absent until halfway through the album. "Letters" is nothing spectacular, but is a decent final ballad nonetheless.
Stellar Kart guitarist Cody Pellerin calls this album a progression and admits that some listeners may think to themselves after listening, "Wow, that doesn't sound like Stellar Kart." While songs like "Shine Like The Stars" and "I Give Up" do show some growth from the band's previous albums, I'm willing to bet listeners would still recognize the band if it branched out even further.
It's bittersweet to listen to an album that has some great songs and takes some risks, yet at other times plays it too safe, because it's clear the band was capable of even more than it accomplished. Stellar Kart should please a wide audience with this release, but hopefully, if their sound continues to progress in a creative direction, we'll get more blockbusters on their next release and a few less sequels.- PReview date: 1/7/08, Review date: 2/23/08 written by Spencer Priest of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Word Records
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