Well Meaning Fiction

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Apparently, the members of Mainstay were punk rockers back in the day, but you probably wouldn't guess it listening to their BEC debut, Well Meaning Fiction. Opening with the relatively dynamic "These Pages," the Minneapolis-based trio surges forward with Christian-minded melodic rock that is urgent and gentle, thoughtful and soothing, and at times evokes acts like Copeland, Switchfoot, or the quieter, more tuneful moments of Kutless. That's not to say the band is completely generic; Mainstay makes music that is as pretty as it is confident, and it's bolstered even more by the strong and mature vocals of Justin Anderson. Effortlessly directing the songs without ever becoming overbearing, there's a certain assuredness in his voice that makes this album seem like one of many, and not merely the band's first. The songs, mostly driven by guitar or subtle touches of piano, are much richer than having just three members in the band would suggest them to be, and their warmth ultimately results in an entirely welcoming album, one to reach for when you just need to lay back and unwind. However, its comforting qualities are almost too much of a good thing, since almost every song is of the mid-tempo reverent kind, and it sometimes feels like Mainstay is just a one-trick pony. But this is easy enough to forgive since enough songs on this debut show real promise that the band actually isn't.

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