The Children Have Grown | Posted June 11, 2012 Staff Reviewer
Tooth & Nail recording artist Children 18:3 made a name for themselves in the music scene back in 2008 with their self-titled debut project. The trio--made up of siblings Seth, David and sister Lee Marie Hostetter--birthed new life into the dying punk rock music movement by meshing gritty guitar riffs, thrashing drums and raw vocals against the backdrop of their blatantly honest spiritual lyrics.
The band was an instant success, and soon released a follow-up titled Rain's a Comin in 2010. The album showed a maturity by the group, experimenting with indie rock sounds, while still staying loyal to the punk tendencies fans had come to love on their debut.
Having played over 150 shows over the last several years, the group took some time off the road in late 2011 to record their most recent project, On The Run.
The phrase "On The Run" holds a special meaning for the young band. Not does it paint a clear picture of their chaotic touring life over the last four years, it also represents an unexpected melodic change of pace.
"Prior to recording the project, we were just like, 'Man, let's switch it up and take a new approach,'" says drummer Seth of the album. "There is a lot of musical variety.'"
Working with producer Travis Wyrick (Pillar, Disciple, P.O.D.) for the first time, the band decided to throw out the old formula and start from scratch, showcasing they are capable of far more musically than most people would think.
"Moment After Moment" starts things off on a fast paced punk note, and shows no signs of slowing down with the fist throwing, headbanging track "Bandits."
"We'll Never Say Goodbye" delves into the new musical waters with which the band is experimenting on this project. While keeping its rock flair, it can easily be categorized as a power pop song, a style that is increasingly growing in the indie music circle.
Rock-fuelled "What About Justice?" is a painfully honest tune about a believer being questioned by someone who demands a reason for all the suffering in the world. The song offers few answers, the group even admitting they don't fully understand why certain things are allowed to happen. It's a relatable song for anyone who has ever been in that tough position.
"Jenny" is written from the viewpoint of a girl looking for love in all the wrong places, only to find out that the love she's been looking for comes in the form of a God who's been pursing her all her life. It's one of the most solid tracks on the project.
Album namesake "Always On The Run" slows things down a bit, talking about how we always run from the things we need the most. Lee Marie and David's vocal shine on this song, but lyrically, it's a little muddled. It's a solid song, it'll just take some extra effort on the listeners behalf to interpret it for themselves. The rock comes back with a vengeance in the form of "I Tried To Do The Right Thing" and "Holding On," the latter of the two being an indie rock lover's dream.
"Why Are You Afraid Of The Dark?" is my favorite song on the album from a lyrical standpoint, it being a dark lullaby of sorts, from a father to their frightened child. It paints an unconventional picture of how God shelters us from the darkness in this world. I enjoy the originality of the concept.
"Nowhere To Run" pays homage to the band's punk/rock roots by starting off with David Hostetter's screaming vocals, and transitions into "All In Your Head," which is almost fighting in its mock-Southern Rock similarity to fellow Tooth & Nail rockers, Family Force 5. This will definitely be a fun song to hear live, as it's one of the best on the album.
The mini-track "Drifter" ends this album off an anathematic note. It's high energy musical climax leads the listener to the edge of a cliff before it suddenly comes to an abrupt end. The lyrics talk about us earth being drifters in a desert looking for answers, but unfortunately leaves off with the sudden conclusion of the song before it gets to a moral. Although it was written intentionally to be this way, I feel like the band could have finished the song and closed this album off an extremely high note, and not just an epic epilogue.
Having not been familiar with any of Children 18:3's music before going into it, I was pleasantly surprised with On The Run. Digging through the band's musical evolution, it's easy to see how much they've grown sonically since their debut. Fans of their edgier sounds of the past may not be too keen on the musical direction they decided on take this this effort, offering very little of what they're known for. What they have accomplished however, is proving their diversity and capability to do not only punk, but rock, pop and even acoustic ballads extremely well.
The album can get lyrically sketchy at times, leaving almost too much room for personal interpretation, but regardless, listeners will repeatedly take away a solid message. This is one of the "can't miss" CCM alternative rock albums of the year and fans of the genre will not be disappointed.