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The Good Album
Artist:  All Star United 
Label:  Fierce!
Time:  11 Tracks / 36 mins
 
With All Star United you pretty much know what you are going to get. They have always provided energetic American BritPop in short, sharp and punchy earfuls. The Good Album is much the same, although the opening assault “Surface of the Sun” has a tad more sonic adventure over some solid underpinning bass and a psychedelic wah-wah edge to the guitar work. 
 
Much of the disc reaches out from a Christian perspective to a world outside, both in its welcome lack of jargon and in its subject matter. The tracks are roughly divided into songs about protecting love from going wrong (“Crashing Cars,” which channels Oasis, and “Once Again”); specifically Christian themes like forgiveness and commitment (“The Blame” and the upbeat CCM of “Is This the Moment?”); but major on growing up – or not (“Good Luck with the Girls”, “Pretty Famous” and “Dude, That’s Freakin’ Awesome”).
 
As always, there is some observational wit thrown casually in as they show us graphic images of the people they are talking to, and especially where they have a point to make.

           We all know you’re crazy, ‘coz you tell us all the time
            When you’ve had a few too many and you call.
            I know it’s your life, but do you want to waste it all?
            
            Here’s to working through this stage 
            Before there’s no one half your age
            Left to say, ‘Dude, that’s freakin’ awesome!’
            Here’s to purpose, here’s to plans,
            Learning how to be a man, if you can...
 
            Coz no one likes it when you’re rude
            And beer is not a kind of food – no, it’s true.
 
This does beg the question, though, to whom they are singing these songs – should most of the listening adults not have learned these lessons by now? Or are they warnings to a younger generation to grow up at the right time? I ask especially when there are songs like the bouncy “Good Luck with the Girls” that specifically address older men:             

Mid-life crisis, can you tell me where your wife is?
Your place, MySpace? Your shirts are like Miami Vice’s
46 is 39 when you’re dating online 
All Star get poignant on the slower “Once Again, with Feeling,” a mature relationship song, shot through with forgiveness, hope and the need to make an effort. Hints of pedal steel and some powerful, yearning guitar licks express the aching emotion of the song.
 
There are a couple of throwaway pieces (“Pretty Famous” or the darker “I’m a Killler”) that are nonetheless enjoyable sing-alongs, but they add to the feeling that much of the material can get samey. 
 
The Britpop style belies the depth of thought inside. Main-man Ian Eskelin is an award-winning producer, whom you can trust for a vibrant sound and purposeful content that is well above most of the CCM that it gets racked alongside; but there is enough cleverness and energy in the band to stretch itself a little further from time to time. So yes, it’s certainly a Good Album, but not brilliant.
 
Derek Walker


 

 
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