Stellar Kart

Expect the Impossible

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One of the anticipated miracles to which the album title may have referred was the very survival of Christian "punk-pop/rock," Stellar Kart's sound of choice. The genre had become a tough sell by 2008; fellow punk pioneers Relient K, for instance, were relying on a continual reinvention to remain relevant even in the eyes of their most devoted fans. With the initial appeal of "speed rock" long gone, Adam Agee and the rest of the Stellar Kart crew looked to change their formula only slightly for their third release. Producer Ian Eskelin's m.o. was to "meet listeners where they are," i.e., broaden their sound to appeal to a larger fan base. Their degree of success depends on the listener's taste for punk-pop. The quality of Stellar Kart's craft has never been in doubt, as they proved once again their ability to churn out three-minute power-chord gems. A lack of greater depth and diversity, however, limited the band from truly breaking out on this album. By "varying their sound," they apparently meant adding stabs of synth atop the crunchy guitars and occasionally slowing down the tempo. It worked well, thanks to that same peppy charm that catapulted Good Charlotte and the All-American Rejects to the forefront. Unlike their secular counterparts, however, Stellar Kart had a substantive message to back up their studio optimism, rounding out the album with impressive calls to action on tunes like "Pray" and "Automatic." However long punk-pop would remain viable after its release, Expect the Impossible seemed to embody the best qualities of the genre.

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