After releasing his solo project Save the Humans in late 2004, Ian Eskelin returned to All Star United to record Love and Radiation, which continues where Revolution left off. The band is finally releasing the album in the States after a long wait since its UK street date, and American fans will not be disappointed in the least.
Picking up from 2002's Revolution, All Star United hasn't changed their sound much over the past four years; they've merely perfected it. Just like Revolution, Love and Radiation has a more mature sound than the band's early work, as is evident on the harmonious "We Could Be Brilliant." The biggest difference from their old sound is the flow of the album. All Star United's first two albums were very eclectic and at times disjointed. Now, the album has more of a theme; the songs flow beautifully from one to the next and nothing seems to be missing.
In the past, the band has also usually tipped the scale toward having fun, while throwing in a handful of truly memorable songs. This time, the fun is still clearly present ("Let's Rock Tonight," "You You You"), but it's intermixed with some of the best stuff ASU has ever recorded ("Love & Radiation," "Jesus on the Radio," and plenty more). The band's trademark sarcasm is also here, most notably on "Song of the Year" ("Holy, holy, worthy, worthy, something, something, something, something / that rhymes with Jesus' name / that oughta do / guess I'm through / time to canonize").
Many tracks contain some of Eskelin's most heartfelt lyrics to date (and that's quite a statement). "We Could Be Brilliant" cries, "Down here everything is broken / and we smile like everything is fine / let go the blows that break us open / it's only when we're shattered we can shine." Worshipful songs such as "Take Me Away" and "Like Hallelujah" are on the same level as some of the band's classic ballads like "Thank You, Goodnight" and "Saviour of My Universe."
There isn't a weak spot to be found on Love and Radiation, but definitely plenty to rave about. Fans who haven't heard Revolution may be surprised at the band's maturity, but it gives their music a broader appeal and ultimately a more polished sound. From the catchy guitar riffs that dominate the first few tracks, to the fun energy in the middle, to the masterful ending, All Star United has come up with their best work to date, and what easily deserves to be recognized as a contender for album of the year.- Review date: 5/27/07; PReviewed: 3/28/07, written by Spencer Priest
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