Longtime fans of punk music will probably recall a very popular band known as Anberlin, one which concluded its run as a top alternative artist several years ago upon the band’s breakup. While this breakup bruised the hearts of longtime Anberlin fans, they may be able to find some peace in the music of Anberlin’s ex-member Stephen Christian through his band known as Anchor & Braille, particularly through their most recent release, “Songs for the Late Night Drive Home.”
It’s a common misconception of music fans everywhere to believe that Anchor & Braille is a new band, when in fact the project has been around since the early days of Anberlin itself. While Anchor & Braille saw little success during the time of Anberlin, the band has grown in popularity since the former’s breakup, and it reaches new heights with the release of “Songs for the Late Night Drive Home.” For many years, Anchor & Braille released only singles, one’s which Stephen Christian determined simply weren’t befitting of Anberlin and their music style. Through this method, individual songs were released under the name “Anchor & Braille,” and they have since evolved into a standalone band with a full-length album. Anchor & Braille have since released three full-length albums, with “Songs for the Late Night Drive Home” being the third and most recent.
Upon first glance, “Songs for the Late Night Drive Home” is far from attention-capturing. Its cover art leaves much to be desired, and the album itself is far shorter than what many fans were hoping for. With this in mind, the album is still considered to be a full-length release, and although it may be shorter than many were expecting, it still fills its role as an Anchor & Braille release very well, and is overall a great listen.
While Anchor & Braille are connected to Anberlin through their history, they share very little by way of musical style – in fact, this difference is the very essence of Anchor & Braille’s existence as a band. While Anberlin is known for their hard-hitting, angsty punk tunes, “Songs for the Late Night Drive Home” takes the ideas of Stephen Christian in an entirely new direction, featuring sensual songs full of ambiance. The songs featured on this album are sure to make the listener reflect on their thoughts during a listen, and will unavoidable give some sense of romance to anyone hearing it.
Anchor & Braille don’t contrast from Anberlin in their lyrics alone; in fact, one could say that the two share very little outside of Stephen Christian. “Songs for the Late Night Drive Home” features sensational electronic beats that are much closer to pop than punk, truly highlighting the difference between the two entities. In addition, the songs featured on Anchor & Braille’s newest release are in essence ballads, and will appeal to fans of thoughtful music. These ballads range in tone, with some coming across as upbeat and others seemingly somber. With this in mind, it’s important for any new listener of Anchor & Braille to understand that they will not be hearing Anberlin 2.0, but rather an entirely different band with a very different style of writing.
With this in mind, fans of all kinds should give “Songs for the Late Night Drive Home” a listen, whether they be inherent fans of ballads and pop music, or longtime fans of Anberlin looking to hear Stephen Christian’s voice in a new light. Whatever the reason may be, the key is to listen to “Songs for the Late Night Drive Home” with an open mind, understanding that it may not meet initial expectations. Should the first listen go poorly, a second play through may provide some light as to what makes the album different, and why these differences make it great in and of itself. After all, Stephen Christian is a musical genius, and “Songs for the Late Night Drive Home” is no exception.
As for current fans of Anchor & Braille, be prepared for an excellent album when you first go to listen to “Songs for the Late Night Drive Home.” It has everything you might expect from an Anchor & Braille album, albeit much shorter than many would expect. With this in mind, it still provides a wide range of ballads which convey a spectrum of feelings to the listeners, and it becomes ever more apparent with each listen of the album that Anchor & Braille are talented enough on their own to be listened to without previous knowledge of Anberlin.
Many solo artists or ex-band members who form new bands are plagued with fans begging for the same material that was created during the career of the original band. Fans of Fall Out Boy are all too aware of this phenomenon, when lead singer Patrick Stump started a pop career during the hiatus of the legendary alternative band. Fans tend to become upset over the change in music style, and while this is sure to happen with Anchor & Braille, it’s far from deserved. Anyone who has heard “Songs from the Late Night Drive Home” will understand that it is far different from any work done by Anberlin, but true fans understand and appreciate the difference. Skeptical listeners who are unsure of this contrast in style will want to ignore the fact that Anberlin and Anchor & Braille share a member, as his presence in both entities has little to do with the style of each band’s music. With that in mind, “Songs for the Late Night Drive Home” is an excellent album and is worth the listen, whether it be from new fans or fans of old, and it truly shows that Anchor & Braille have what it takes to stand on their own as a band, rather than as an extension of Anberlin.