Above The Golden State made some waves two years ago with their self-titled debut album, having an appealing combination of hooky tunes and feel-good lyrics to accompany them. However, while their sophomore project, The Golden Rule EP, mostly continues this musical philosophy, it's not as rewarding of a product in the end as its predecessor.
The opening title track gives things an energetic start. With a dirty guitar backing, the song has an inarguable message; however, when the song plainly states the actual rule plainly in the chorus ("Love your Savior, and your neighbor like yourself"), it's a little hard to take it seriously. Maybe the song is meant to be tongue-in-cheek in its delivery, but either way, the song just isn't compelling like it should have been. "Chance To Love" improves on this front, however, and is probably the standout on the EP ("Why would I bother breathing if my lungs don't need the air?/I don't want to give up, 'cause today's a chance to love"). "I Am Loved," the lead single from the EP, is very much a single in its composition, but not necessarily in a good way; there isn't much innovation on this track if at all. The message is simple, but probably too simple to really warrant any deep or boundary-breaking thinking. The musical compositions of "Tragedy" and "Real You," unfortunately, don't really seem to stick and are ultimately forgettable, while "Teach Us" also is stuck in this mediocrity, while almost ending almost too abruptly with an odd multitude of distorted voices.
It's regrettable, because the latter half of the EP is unapologetic filler, while the first three tracks are better on the distinctiveness factor. As a result, the whole EP has an overall "carelessly assembled" appearance to it, and maybe a little more thought and consideration put into the individual songs (especially, the last three) would have improved the whole product, even if just by a little. The arrangement of the songs is also a little haphazard with not too much thought put into the song order in the tracklisting, and this (along with the strikingly unconvincing cover art) only adds to how hastily the EP seems to have been made. After one listen, there's an aching need for a second half to this EP. It's a little strange the band is releasing an EP as their second project, especially when their debut was a full-length project. We've already seen what the band can do to make a full effort, so one has to ask- what was the idea behind an EP release instead? EMI CMG, the parent company of the band's label,0 began releasing debut EPs instead of albums somewhat recently, but Above The Golden State is no longer a "new artist." It has certainly been a long enough gestation period since ATGS's debut to warrant the release of a full-length sophomore project; in any case, the EP is not a very satisfying second outing regardless.
Above The Golden State's second outing bears few surprises, but it will undoubtedly appeal to anyone who enjoyed their first album as well as Christian hit radio in general. Nevertheless, it's an oddly timed, seemingly thrown together EP effort, and there are much more accomplished EPs in this field to which one should pay more attention.- Review date: 2/6/10, written by Roger Gelwicks of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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