Saint Alvia – [Album]

Thursday, 02 October 2008

With Between The Lines, the newly re-christened Saint Alvia (formerly Saint Alvia Cartel – the band abbreviated its name with no explanation given but, presumably, they were sick of the anatomical comparisons raised  by SAC) has clearly made its next order of business to put some distance between their prior work and their new direction. The band turns its back completely on the aggro-punk bruisers of its debut in the opening seconds of the before/after mash-up “Walk Before You Run DMC” that neatly sums up this new direction (and simultaneously bears striking resemblance to Sum 41) that includes brighter production and syncopated, decidedly hip hop-ish vocals and reggae-laced rhythms. For those that have been with the band for a while and remember the group’s roots in Boys Night Out, Jersey and Grade, this new sound will feel like a hard left turn away from the band’s known background that will hit like a stiff, unexpected jab to the gut; the change is so complete and fully-realized that it’ll knock the wind out of you.

The confusion gives way to joy pretty quickly though. By as early as the second verse of “Walk Before You Run,” the band is already winning the hearts of the skeptical with their new and poppy sound. Amid rattling keyboards, horns, accordion and harmonica, Saint Alvia single-mindedly and tirelessly reinvents itself into a party ready ska-punk band with songs like “Romeo,” “Mornings In Feng Tu” and Roll With It” with hip hop inflections that have far less teeth, but will probably get more radio play and hence draw a larger audience.

If that accessibility was what Saint Alvia was shooting for with Between The Lines, the record is a rousing success. There are enough infectious riffs and hooky vocals laced through songs including “Trouble Keeps Me Busy,” the title track and “Are You Serious?” that established fans who initially recoiled will at least find the album to be a bittersweet, guilty pleasure. As a star turn or run for the brass ring, Between The Lines is a respectable record – but no one would consider it a punk rock album of any stripe. It’ll draw pop audiences, but it has none of the teeth that the band’s debut had and so will not assuage the group’s existing fans.

Saint Alvia myspace

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