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20 Watts Reviews Between the Trees’ Spain by Eric Vilas-Boas
Between the Trees' Spain sounds like more of the same

Between the Trees' Spain sounds like more of the same

PREVIEW: Dowload Between the Trees’ “Scarecrow” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 9/20 Watts

As fan-friendly as a piano-infused-pop-punk band like Between the Trees can be, they usually don’t release acclaimed music. With their latest album Spain, the Orlando natives largely rehash the same sound used on their debut effort, and on the albums of the many other pop punkers enjoying some degree of popularity in today’s musical climate.

The album begins simply, with the fun-but-forgettable “We Can Try” (here’s the video) kicking things off. With a simple hook and a simpler chorus (“We could try, oh yeah we could try”), it stands as one of the better songs on the album, but doesn’t set too high a standard. A sample of the rest of the album’s heart-on-sleeve melodrama, it’s a simple pop formula structured around guitars, drums, keyboards, and sing-a-long vocals.

Another fairly good song on Spain, “Scarecrow,” is slower, and the lyrics are filled with more compelling imagery. It’s the first song that doesn’t sound painfully familiar, and the slow opening piano line complements Ryan Kirkland’s voice well. The specific lyrical metaphor also proves a more intriguing trope than anything in the first few songs, much less the opening track. Sure, Kirkland’s melodrama is still there, but in this song his heart actually seems to be too.

After “Scarecrow,” the album makes a (fairly abrupt) transition into slower music. While the next track “Gentleman” is more of a pop song, the album closer “Changed by You” is a conditional promise to a loved one. Ending on a slower piano ballad which references faith and a relationship in need of work was smart, and the string accompaniment and horns in the finale were an inspired touch as well.

The thing is, the tracks aren’t that bad on their own. Any of them could stand alone as a decent song — if we hadn’t already heard it from bands like My Favorite Highway, The Morning Light, The Maine, Sing It Loud and a dozen others. History tells us that a scene or genre where all the songs sound the same (grunge, glam metal, and a few other relatively dead genres) is in trouble. Judging by one half-hour on Last.Fm, that seems to be the case here.

With their debut, The Story and The Song, Between the Trees had carved a small niche of their own with the Christian influences present in their music. On Spain, they haven’t really decided to downplay them in their lyrics, which might be a mistake. While it’s one of the few things that sets them apart, it’s difficult for any overtly religious band to succeed in the predominantly secular music industry. Regardless of anyone’s taste or beliefs, I think we can agree that it would be a shame for any band to go the way of Creed.

— Eric Vilas-Boas

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