Consider The Thief is quickly turning into my favorite debut artist 0f 2009. My first reaction was that I liked it but it sounded too much like Thrice. Yet despite the obvious influences, this band has worked hard at the sound they have created, and I’m loving the album for both its music and its lyrics.
Essentially, Signs and Wonders sounds like newer Thrice but with softer, lusher vocals (think Band Of Horses) that provide an excellent touch. Flowing through time signatures and instrumentation with ease, the music is sometimes led by a warm piano, sometimes by the strong guitars, and sometimes by a percussive backbeat – but always with a well-polished, deliberate, and smooth production that drives without wasting energy and relaxes without lulling to sleep.
The lyrics are just as strong, borrowing from and building upon Scriptural references and themes with an effortless sincerity. The opener “Signs And Wonders” confesses to doubting God while noting that even Israelites who saw God’s miracles didn’t believe. “Son Of Hell” declares, “All I’ve done / I’ve done all in vain / ‘till I learned to say, thy will be done.”
But my favorite track is undoubtedly Joshua. It tells the Biblical story of Jericho, but it uses the destruction of Jericho by trumpets as a brilliant metaphor for the power of music and sound:
Lord, surely I will die with no strength or steel
but by brass, I will make their towers kneel.
I know men’s hearts are swayed by sound in a singer’s strains.
But have I faith enough to sing a city to decay? I have tried to move mountains, and they did not obey, but by brass and belief, their towers will be razed.
I sound the horn, shout in song, watch each brick obey my call, and know foundations are unmade by sound, and not by steel.
I love songs that can tell a Biblical story from a fresh perspective and at the same time provide a fresh application: how can I be like Joshua with the things that I create? What wicked fortresses can I “sing to decay”?
The members of Consider The Thief are nice guys, too. The band seems to not at all be associated with the Christian market and have a strong mainstream following despite their unapologetic lyrics, and I messaged them on MySpace to ask where they felt they fit into all of that. Sean replied that my question and message (which was rather lengthy) deserved a better reply than he could quickly type out on his phone (iPhone app, maybe?), so he simply gave me his cell phone number and told me to call him!
We had a nice ten-minute conversation where Sean explained that they were all Christians but didn’t like the expectations and confines of the Christian market. He fears the reaction he might get from that community if he had a smoke before a show or was seen having a beer. We can save lifestyle questions in and out of the Christian community for its own debate, but even apart from that, I really respect Consider The Thief for their strong and open lyrics. A lot of the bands that used to be strictly Christian seem to be watering down or hiding their message to attract more mainstream fans, and yet these guys have started with a mainstream following built upon lyrics that are even better than the more-Christian songs some of those bands used to write. It’s a welcome jolt to that paradigm and all the questions of the responsibilities of Christian musicians.
As far as I can tell Signs and Wonders does not have a physical release, but it debuted online in June. I iTunes’d it almost immediately after perusing their MySpace selections, and I’ve been enjoying it more than a lot of recent albums that I’d been anticipating for a long time. Well worth your $9.99, or at least a few minutes of your time (MySpace link).