Rock and roll isn't known for its subtlety. Christian rock, even less so. Whether praising a young woman's figure or praising the lord, it's usually not too hard to suss out a song's general intent.
For the Wrecking, however, their third major body of work, So Much for Love, is full of nuance and double entendre (if not the kind to which you're used). Even that album title can be read two ways: as an offhand dismissal of that most fickle of emotions and as a way of saying, "I'm all in."
In the Wrecking's case, the meaning is generally the latter. They really do so much for love. As a brand of Christianity, theirs is easy to get behind, full of good works (their effort to battle human trafficking is vitally important), a relentless positivity, and an almost total lack of duplicity. What you see is what you get, unapologetically, but also humbly.
Or what you hear, rather. And you get something pretty different nowadays from the music the band played when they were the Kingpin Wrecking Crew, with a full-time turntablist and sometime rapper. Gone are the turntables. Gone is the ska upstroke. Gone is much of the hip-hop influence they once carried around with them.
In their place is an electronic radio-friendly rock, influenced now more by the likes of Radiohead, Metric, and the emo bands of the early 2000s. If you like giant-sized, hard-driving rock choruses with plenty of melody to sing along with, peppered with digital flavor, this album is damn palatable, regardless of your religious leanings.
Only sometimes are those leanings made overt. Jesus gets a shout-out in "Tidal Wave," where his particular brand of love "will wash me away over and over again." The tune is by-the-numbers radio rock until the bridge, where Karl Anderson brings in some spacey keyboard lines to spice things up.
Elsewhere, though, the dilemmas can sound pretty universal. "Let Everything Sing" is punkish, with fuzzed-out guitar, some EDM sounds, and a general nod to contemporary song construction. As elsewhere, you might find yourself wondering if that second-person "you" is God or a girl (something you'd only wonder if you knew the band's background): "I hear your voice in the feedback/I have no choice but to re-act . . . You sound so beautiful."
The Wrecking can almost see eye to eye with Voltaire in their perception of God as the world around us.
In the quieter "Gravity," the first where acoustic guitar is at the song's heart, frontman Doug Elder apes Guster's Ryan Miller in his melodic melancholy: "You are higher than the stars when I look up to the sky/I want to be with you . . . no matter what it costs."
Again: God or a girl?
Ultimately, of course, it doesn't matter. The best songwriting allows us to internalize the lyrics and make them our own narrative. It allows us to see the way an emotion can be both universal and uniquely private, how each of us can make a new definition for a word we learned as two-year-olds.
We can all agree that "Fire" has a "na-na-na" closing chorus that must kill live, and that Darren Elder gives the verse serious drive behind the kit. "Even if my heart is getting colder," Elder sings, "hold me closer, over and over."
God, or Tiny Dancer?
So Much for Love | Released by the Wrecking | on Chosen Records | with Switchfoot and NEEDTOBREATHE | at Bangor Waterfront Pavilion | Sept 29 | thewrecking.net