I’m come a long way from dismissing Showbread as crazy and weird to loving their sound and Josh Dies’s songwriting and admiring their dedicated fans. After last year’s double-concept Anorexia / Nervosa, Showbread returns to a more traditional album with The Fear Of God.
The crisp collision of prominent bass and raw power chords decorated with the dancing keytar will both satisfy fans of their classic sound and fuel the critics’ notions that their stuff all sounds the same. “Lost Connection With The Head” is quintessential Showbread, with a catchy verse pulled along by the bass until the synth comes in, and it’s totally energetic and enjoyable. So is “Let There Be Raw,” which is such a natural live song that it almost feels like it was blatantly written to be a crowd-pleaser (and yet it’s surprisingly enticing on the album, too). There’s almost too much of a dance feel at some points; “Regret Consumes Me” starts off sounding like something from Family Force 5 before bellowing into a synth-and-screaming-and-clashing-cymbals party reminiscent of something off Anorexia or Nervosa.
There is some variety here. “I Think I’m Going To See You” has a punk feel, and “Precursor” has a lite classic rock breakdown (think Guitar Hero) in its bridge. But for the most part, this is Showbread doing what Showbread does best, and that’s not at all a bad thing, although there are scattered hints of recycling.
“Shepherd, No Sheep” recalls “Sing Me to Sleep” or “The Sky (Alpha)”. But it feels stupid to even make such criticisms when you consider the point of the song, which has Josh Dies satirizing an apology to his fans and critics: “Forgive me children for I have sinned / I never asked you first / the way in which I wrote this song, the pen which scribed the verse…. / Being the connoisseur you are, with all you listen to / You know exactly what we’ve done wrong and what we need to do / Come to you before each note is ever written down / Find out exactly what you want before we make a sound…” Regardless of whether or not you feel the reaction is warranted, its execution is brilliant.
Throughout the disc, Josh Dies’s songwriting is expectedly solid and uncompromisingly sharp (it wouldn’t be a Showbread album without a song like “The Great Emasculation”), although there aren’t as many bizarre theological analogies. Dies treats us to his combination of thesaurus-laden verses (“Incredibly impressive and bereft of concern / Lobotomized and optimized and then I’m ready to burn“) and irresistibly chantable choruses (“I’ve got to get myself to forget myself“). The fairly epic title track tries to reconcile God’s goodness with the horrors of the world and finally praises him for his rescuing love (the theme as well as the feel of the climactic build are strikingly similar to Jars of Clay’s “Oh My God,” but I don’t know if this was influence or coincidence).
Though we ache, though we cry,
never break, never die
We sing of His great love again and again
And His love reigns forever, and forevermore
Forever and ever, Amen
This is Showbread, love it or hate it… they don’t really care.