For as much flack as people gave Fall Out Boy during their run, there are a few facts that one cannot ignore. For one thing, they were able to reshape pop-punk in their own image, taking a dying genre and redefining it for middle America. In short, they challenged people to think outside of the three-chord box that bands like Good Charlotte and Blink-182 spent the latter part of the ’90s and early 2000s making much of their success on. The aftermath of this is that we’re hit with armies of suburbanites who effortlessly highlight the scribblings of Kerouac and Bukowski for lyrics and song titles.

Enter Anarbor, a band from the Fall Out Boy school of pop-punk, as well as the MxPx school of Christian subtlety. Their latest full-length, The Words You Don’t Swallow, is a natural extension of the radio-friendly yet edgy pop rock that most bands are using as the template for success. Not to say that it doesn’t work.


“Gypsy Woman” is such a catchy song, I really wouldn’t be surprised if it wound up as one of this year’s bigger hits. In fact, if I may, I’d ask Hopeless Records to make it a single. The song’s melody and off-time signature are the best examples of Anarbor’s talent. The album’s actual single, “Let the Games Begin,” sounds suspiciously like a 2*Sweet song with its gang vocals, stuttered guitar parts and overall feel.

The most distracting element of this album is how the obvious the lyrics are, which pains me to write, only because it’s probably one of the most difficult parts for a band to compose. Anarbor seem like they’re very conscious of what their message is, as evidenced on “Drugstore Diet” and “Going To Jail,” but the words are, at times, so vapid that I was compelled to skip tracks that probably would’ve stood on their own as instrumentals.

All in all, Anarbor have made the most of cobbling together a decent sophomore full-length that is miles ahead of their previous efforts. Despite their pension for taking influence from rather specific bands, they’re an obviously talented lot, and with time, Anarbor could possibly stand away from the pop-punk wasteland and come into their own.


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