It's always the unexpected treats that end up meaning the most, like a new song from a forgotten favorite, or sometimes it's rediscovering that album which defined a past summer. Other times, it's three home-schooled siblings from rural Minnesota and their punk band that reignites your love for music itself. You never see it coming - until the opening crunch of "All My Balloons" kicks you square in the face. Hope seeps in, although with a degree of trepidation, because let's face it - the genre was done to death years ago. Children 18:3's self-titled debut may seem like a retread of an oversaturated style - even with its energetic cuff at the outset. But give them a chance… you're in for a treat.
At first it all sounds very familiar… punk foundation and generous influences from The Clash, Saves the Day, and maybe a little Foo Fighters. Often bouncy fun or driving, pseudo-melancholic intensity- always having a certain unfinished charm coupled with just enough polish to make it captivating. The Hostetters (Dave on guitar and vocals, Seth on drums, and sister Lee Marie on vocals and bass) are all equally skilled in their respective stations. In almost a decade playing together it's obvious they've learned how each piece should compliment the others- simply because they do it so well. Seth's drums are orchestrated around the tone of each song's moments- driving the energy onward, only to be injected with ska-pops and even some cowbell for effect. Dave and Lee Marie's dual-vocals are perfect, often bouncing back and forth between them chaotically before punching into a sustained harmony, and then right back into the hectic trade-offs. Bands like The Forecast may try similar vocal arrangements, but there's no comparison- I doubt I've heard it done better than Children.
Their name is an allusion to Matthew 18:3, wherein Jesus said "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven…"- a notion which carries over into the songwriting, even more than it serves as their unofficial manifesto. The emphasis for these three isn't to push their songs into a genre, or convey a specific message with sterile words or notes. There's an exploration of moments, of emotions and creativity at work here… much like a child with simple faith and expression- devoid of agenda. As sublimely aggressive and structurally raw as the music is- the lyrical content is just as organic to its environment... At once poetic, often defiant and rowdy, and then full of pensive desperation. It's a call to confront complacency in "All My Balloons," the emotions of loss in "Even Sleeping," being salt and light in "The City," or a poignant question of our willingness to actually give our lives for Christ, as the record ends with "Final."
Children 18:3 is just simply GREAT music… raw and refined, introspective and fun, emotional and spiritual - all at the same time. Say hello to the best surprise you've gotten in years.- Review date: 2/22/08, written by David Goodman of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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