After three years of relentless touring and recording, the most famous one-man show in Christian music has finally resurfaced with a new album. On Of Men And Angels, Bryce Avary (better known, perhaps, as The Rocket Summer) truly delivers with what could easily be his best record yet. Mixing TRS's classic pop rock with a hefty helping of spirituality, the fifteen song collection is both undeniably fun and oddly thought-provoking.
"Roses" loudly kicks off Of Men And Angels, in more ways than one-- the topic of faith introduced in the song is a recurring theme throughout. "You Gotta Believe" and "Hills And Valleys" are quick follow-ups, which some listeners might remember from the extended play disc You Gotta Believe EP, released in October of 2009. Next, "I Want Something To Live For," which is quite possibly the best track of the entire album, will have you shouting its beautifully catchy chorus long after the song is over. Later on, the tempo slows a bit with the vaguely autobiographical "Walls" as well the moody title track. But there's no stopping Avary's rhythm as "I Need A Break... But I'd Rather Have A Breakthrough" restarts the party, just in time. Two oddly titled tracks fall right next to each other, "Japanese Exchange Student" (which may very well be a serious effort, but unfortunately isn't) and "Tara, I'm Terrible." "Hey!" sounds exactly like you'd expect, and the album eventually concludes with "Light," arguably one of the strongest selections from the 2009 EP.
Bryce Avary himself called Of Men And Angels "the most substance-filled Rocket Summer album to date." This description is not entirely true, yet not entirely false, either. As far as lyrical content goes, the record is miles away from previous TRS material; it almost plays like a pop music version of Pilgrim's Progress. Musically, though, there aren't a whole lot of defining moments in Of Men And Angels. To be realistic, that's not at all a bad thing-- The Rocket Summer wouldn't be The Rocket Summer without the raucous melodies and simple joy ever-present in each song. Somehow, Of Men And Angels takes listeners to a simple place, where faith is all that matters, and a happy song can save your day. No matter your mood, Of Men And Angels's infectious nature will certainly improve it.- Review date: 2/22/10, written by Garrett DeRossett of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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