The 5-piece of This Beautiful Republic has enjoyed a fair degree of notoriety and success in their few years beyond Toledo, Ohio. A scant sixteen months since last year's Even Heroes Need a Parachute garnered such initial notoriety and good reviews, the band returns with Perceptions. The album's moniker conceptually bears a dual meaning- reflecting the band's experience as both fight and fun exist in pursuing music full-time… and that God's perception and our human acuity are divergent, and yet He is faithful.
Musically, TBR hovers between pop-rock and pop-punk, with a little emocore sensibility thrown in for flavor. Occasionally, a growl or yell will erupt through the melody- but always complimentary to the track it inhabits. As the echoed guitars bounce back and forth during the intro, "Pain" belies its intensity, coming off as typical pop-rock fare until about the one-minute mark. It's then that the band kicks in fully, and the song progresses up and down- from soaring vocals and heavy guitar chugging, back to empty interludes and tender melody. There could be no better track to introduce the record's underlying dichotomy. Beyond the opening shot comes "Surrender Saved My Life," a rock track complete with choral "whoa-oh-oh" to accompany the hook. Aaron Gillespie's cameo on "My God" fits the refrain extremely well, accentuating the tune's pseudo-hardcore aural sensibilities effortlessly, even though the song's energy isn't quite as potent as either band Gillespie is otherwise involved in (Underoath, The Almost).
The meditative songs are just as strong in terms of content, if not in vigor. "For the Life of Me" especially shines, as frontman Ben Olin declares "For the life of me/ Why'd You bear my chains?/ For the life of me/ Why'd You walk to Calvary?/ For the life of me/ I can't explain/ The reason You died, and the reason You came/ Just for the life of me… What do You see in me?/ I'm a leper, not a king…". It's honest worship- truly selfless utterance, and comes off neither as trite nor filler. Most of the album is lyrically picturesque- sometimes clever and emotionally explorative… so it's sad when the utterly average verses of songs like "Learning to Fall" become all the more noticeable.
Overall, Perceptions is a good collection of good songs. The witty lyrical turns are sometimes overshadowed by pretty standard composition, though, which is unfortunate considering This Beautiful Republic is soaked in potential. The message is accessible, the music is quality, and there's at least one inspiring moment (from either aspect) in every song. It's nothing groundbreaking, but the band is trying pretty hard to get there.- Review date: 8/18/08, written by David Goodman of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Forefront Records
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