A new lineup member, a new producer, and a step up to a major label added up to Anberlin's best sense of direction yet, and therefore their strongest output in their brief but prolific career. The band collaborated for three months in the studio to craft their Universal Republic debut with producer Neal Avron, who has helmed projects for Fall Out Boy, Yellowcard, and New Found Glory. Being their fifth album in scarcely six years, spending so much time in the studio had its share of risks involved, particularly with new guitarist Christian McAlhaney, whose addition made three songwriters in the bunch, generally a recipe for "creative differences." It's pleasing, therefore, to see how well Anberlin define themselves on this record. Their sound on New Surrender isn't as much a diversion as it is a realization of their potential to finally seize the full emo spirit in all its glory, as if their high/low, intense-yet-laissez-faire approach to modern rock was simply warming up to this point, which is saying a lot given the quality of songs and the massive following they have carved out over the years. It's not unlike Mae's progression from the critically acclaimed The Everglow to Singularity, where it could be argued that diversity took a back seat to pinpointing their own sound. It worked for Mae, and it works here for Anberlin.
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AllMusic Review by Jared Johnson