Things are different for Stellar Kart. Not only is Stellar Kart's fourth studio album, Everything Is Different Now, their first release on INO records (this after three projects with Word), but their personnel has undergone some change as well. Founding guitarist Cody Pellerin parted ways with the band allowing former Dizmas guitarist Jon Howard to join the ranks of the group.
As usual, Stellar Kart doesn't bring a cutting-edge punk/pop rock sound to Everything is Different Now. However, the album doesn't necessarily shoot for that since the group has taken the punk factor entirely out of the project, and showcases a more worship-driven pop rock sound. The first song on the album, "All My Heart," displays both changes well since it's essentially a worship song with a very upbeat tune. One of the better songs on the album is the title track, but it doesn't have the charm of former Stellar Kart Highlights ("Me And Jesus" or "Jesus Loves You"). The next track is "It's Not Over," an acoustic guitar-driven pop song without much appeal. Although things get more exciting with "Rescue," the up-tempo rock song is very uninspiring and doesn't warrant very many listens. The album ends fairly solidly with "Like The Sun," but the ballad is too uneventful to be considered even remotely epic.
The other half of Everything Is Different Now is covers which Stellar Kart pulls off with mixed success. The single, "We Shine," is the title track from Fee's debut album. The band has added extra enthusiasm to the anthem thanks to exaggerated electric guitars, but the track will strike non-Stellar Kart fans as lame. However, the band drastically erred when covering Norman Greenbaum's oldie "Spirit in the Sky," as not even a modern version could save the truly cheesy, insipid track. Thankfully, the band does bounce back with their version of "Only One." Although the quartet refines the music some, Stellar Kart extracts Yellowcard's raw punk influence and leaves it a bit dry. Those who didn't mind hearing Matt Redman's "You Never Let Go" on the radio a hundred times will get another chance to hear Stellar Karts very similar rendition of the worship song over again. Stellar Kart's cover of "Until My Heart Caves In" maintains Audio Adrenaline's raw rock sound to an acceptable degree.
With the slight exception of Expect The Impossible, Stellar Kart has never been known for their poignant songwriting. So instead of uttering endless pop clichés and rehashing worn out party anthems (all with some positive, spiritual underline), Everything Is Different Now's formula is to spin out overused praise and worship clichés. Setting aside the covers (including the theologically pathetic "Spirit In The Sky") the band's originals lack true originality. While lyrics like "Jesus you're my Savior/there is no one else like you/you have all my heart/all my heart/I will sing forever/I am so in love with you/you have all my heart" and "It's beautiful/How you surround me/Pull me in/And don't let go" and "I'll be there to pick you up/Anytime you call/Tomorrow's on it's way" aren't wrong, they are certainly not a draw for the album ("All My Heart," "Everything Is Different Now," and "Like The Sun" respectively).
I've always thought that Stellar Kart has needed to make changes, both musically and lyrically, to make themselves a more stand-out band. However, while changes have been implemented with their latest release, I can't help but wonder if the album has set them back. Undoubtedly, Stellar Kart fans will fall in love with Everything Is Different Now, but, as a whole, I couldn't wait to stop listening to Stellar Kart's overproduced, underwhelming album. Maybe I'm just cynical. Or maybe this is just Stellar Kart's fourth half-hearted album in five years which fails to show both musical and lyrical maturity.- Review date: 3/3/10, written by Nathaniel Schexnayder of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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