In 1999, a group called The Operation released their debut, the Invisible Man EP, which was followed up in 2001 by their first full-length There Is Hope For A Tree Cut Down. The Operation was a four-man group, fronted by Greg Jehanian. It also featured Christopher Kleinberg and Mike Weiss on guitar, and Aaron Weiss on bass. Sound familiar? Yes, The Operation was essentially mewithoutYou before there was officially mewithoutYou. It was in 2001 that Aaron decided to form the experimental side project, which led to mwY signing to Tooth & Nail and also to the disbanding of The Operation. But they did manage to get this one full-length out first.
Overall, There Is Hope... has the sound of a '90s alternative band. It brings to mind names such as Poor Old Lu, Hum, Plankeye and Sunny Day Real Estate. Listening to the songs now, you can hear how dated it really is, but it would have fit in quite well for the years surrounding the turn of the century. It's even got that hint of early pop punk thrown in there with "Wink With the Eye That Hates Me" and "8th and Washington," as well as some others on the album. And the "dated-ness" of it doesn't even disqualify it from sounding good. It's something I would probably listen to again. The lyrics of the songs tend to be more blunt about Jesus than what you would usually hear from mewithoutYou. mwY tends to speak of God in deeper and mysterious ways, whereas The Operation actually quotes from the Psalms in "Fall Like Fire." "The Together Tree" sings of doing what a lot of us do, waiting for God to tell us what's going to happen, when He only wants to tell us that He loves us. There are also several times with Jehanian asking God to take control, like in "8th and Washington" ("Oh Holy Spirit, I need You as my friend, make me fall down in Your arms") and symbolically in "This May Not Have Happened" ("Having conversations with myself that never seem to end, I'll find out why I shouldn't hold on, rescue me, kill me, save me by Your flames"). They're very outspoken about who they believe in on this album.
Fans of mewithoutYou who maybe didn't have any prior knowledge of their original band may want to try to find this and at least give it a listen (It's available on Rhapsody for stream and purchase, but it might be limited to just that). mewithoutYou definitely ended up being a complete departure from the sound of The Operation, but it was still pretty exciting to listen to this for the first time and get an idea of where one of my favorite bands came from. Don't expect the lyrical quality to be as good, but do expect a good album.- Review date: 11/21/09, written by Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Takehold
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