Erik Larson

Faith, Hope, Love

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Erik Larson's indefatigable touring and recording schedule has gradually earned him candidacy as the most prolific hard rock performer of the mid-2000s. For his second solo release, the Alabama Thunderpussy and Mighty Nimbus guitarist (to name but two of his alternate musical concerns) once again transforms himself into a one-man wrecking crew, capable of handling all instrumentals and vocals on his lonesome. And, whereas his first outing of a couple years earlier, The Resounding, comprised a mixed bag of seemingly leftover ideas rejected by his primary bands, 2005's Faith, Hope, Love instantly takes shape as a far more willful and consistent asset to a potential solo career. Whether Larson actually harbors such intentions down the road remains to be seen, but perhaps his ATP bandmates should prepare for the worse given the increased conviction on display here. Representative new songs such as "Love and Loathing," "Germ," and "Chinvat Bridge" generally fly close to Larson's stoner rock/doom specialties and, to a lesser degree, his punk/hardcore origins (see the manic "Smile," the vicious "Bloodshot," and the threatening "By my Hands"). But increasingly frequent diversions into semi-acoustic fare (the amusing "The Bar Song," the evocative "You & Me," and the strangely tribal "My Inner Justice") also expose as yet underdeveloped, mellower possibilities. Considering his supporters are as likely to condemn as endorse these unknown facets of his talents, it's probably wise that he kept them to a minimum here, but when combined with his surprising cover of Elliott Smith's "Say Yes," they offer further tentative signs of singer/songwriter ambitions still to come. For now, Faith, Hope, Love will handily qualify as the better of his two solo albums.

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