For the Minnesota-based act Mainstay, it probably seems to have taken an eternity for their full-length debut album to be released. The band has been around for nearly half a decade, and after building up quite a fan base in the Minneapolis area, they finally signed with BEC Recordings and began recording with acclaimed producer Aaron Sprinkle. However, they soon ran into even more delays as lead singer Justin Anderson lost his voice completely with only days left to complete the recording. Thankfully, Zach Hodges, another excellent producer, stepped in and helped Anderson track the vocals at a later date, finally making the album ready for its release.
After all of the band's history, they have begun to make some noise as news of this release has gained momentum, being compared to some impressive artists like Anberlin and Sanctus Real. With all of these comparisons, questions have arisen as to whether the band would be able to offer something new and exciting. Though they obviously have their influences, Mainstay has succeeded in making an album that is mature and unique both lyrically and instrumentally. From the get-go, Well Meaning Fiction is a release that breaks out of the box.
A typical problem with a band's first release is being overly cautious with their lyrics, but this is never an issue for Mainstay. Songs like "Danger" and the title track go right after society and, in particular, the growing trend of churches failing to present the entire Gospel but simply helping the congregation to feel better about themselves. Adversely, the tracks "Overnight at Nicolett" and "Down Silver Lake" focus more on personal struggles to find contentedness with God in the midst of a chaotic world. These songs are deeply spiritual, prodding the listener not just to hear the words but to listen and examine his or her life from the inside out.
The sound of the band is also impressive, with clever guitar riffs on rock tracks like "These Pages" as well as smooth vocals on slower songs such as "Take Away" and "October Came Late." With only ten tracks on the debut, a small complaint would be the absence of the excellent song "Life as a Vapor" which appeared on the band's EP but was left off here. Other than that, Well Meaning Fiction is a remarkably strong debut, and solidifies Mainstay as one of the best new artists of the year.- Review date: 2/5/06, written by Spencer Priest
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