The Goodbye Letter – S/T

Ok, so here are my unsolicited comments regarding Christian musicians: good for you. Faith is important. Regarding Christian music, fine. Some of the most beautiful and uplifting music ever created is gospel and choir music. Religious ceremonies and gatherings wouldn’t be the same without the songs. However, when Christian music works its way into popular rock, I start to have a problem with it. There is obviously a large market for Christian bands, and that’s great. But when a band starts singing about Jesus saving them and “Praise His Name!” in every song, I’m turned off.
It just doesn’t work. Sunny Day Real Estate broke up because Jeremy Enigk became a Christian and the rest of the band feared that he would be proclaiming his faith in all their songs. No one (including, apparently, even Enigk) wanted that. Think about how many bands you listen to in which the singer outwardly proclaims his faith. Maybe a lot, but likely few. I have discussed this topic several times with friends, many of whom are devout Christians, and we all agree: Keep your preachin’ and proclaimin’ outta my rock-n-roll!
All that being said, let me apologize to The Goodbye Letter. Oh, this band is obviously a Christian band, but they only have one song here (“Midnight and Chasing Stars”) that’s obviously proclaiming and mentioning their Savior. The remainder deal with topics like relationships and life’s trials – all good things to write about in songs. Oh, there’s a few oblique references to being blessed or feeling powerful, but that’s it. And you might expect even the songs about relationships and heartbreak to be happy and uplifting, but that’s not the case. So don’t fret too much if you’re completely against Christian themes in rock music. The Goodbye Letter only do it a little. Or perhaps they do it a lot and manage to make their songs cryptic enough to get it past me, and I’m fine with that too.
So The Goodbye Letter are an emo band. But I didn’t have to tell you that, did I? You looked at the album cover and the band name and figured that out right away. The Goodbye Letter sound like what you would get if you crossed Mineral’s first album with Cross My Heart’s latest. Melodic guitars, soaring yet slightly off-key vocals, fast rhythms, time changes, all the elements are here. Even the lyrics, which do talk about relationships and longing and such, just scream emo band. You’ve probably stopped reading already, but hold on a second. The Goodbye Letter are good. These songs are good. They’re not unique in the least, but they’re good.
Just listen to the sheer energy and enthusiasm that starts off the album on “Rhapsody of the Uneasy Sea” (emo title, ya think?). This fast-paced song has melodic guitars and chuggy guitars, fantastic soaring vocal harmonies, and plenty of power and energy. “Snowball Fights and Sea Shells” (what book did they get these titles from? So You Want to Be an Emo Band?) is similarly charged, all power-guitar driven and high octane. This one is probably the best song here, going from fast and furious to slower and quieter, very much an emo song. “All These Years” is a slower build but more powerful and chugging song, very early Mineral. “Coming to Terms” is another good one, very powerful with some stellar guitar work. And while “Long Harsh Winter” is more contemplative – doing the quiet and pretty to fast and frenzied and back thing – the closer “Rue Anemone” is much softer and lighter in feel but heavier and deeper in tone. This is nice and pretty, and when it picks up by the end, you really get a sense of what these guys are feeling.
Alright, I’ve done the best job I could at describing this band’s music. I tried to be original, but the best I can say is that it sounds almost exactly like early Mineral and Cross My Heart, along with the host of other bands that sound just like those two. There’s nothing terribly original here. But I should point out that these songs are good. This band is good. They’re talented, clearly. The songs are powerful and intricate, just like you want your emo songs to be. This is their first album, and a lot of bands’ first albums sound like other bands. If they use this talent (and keep away from the preaching) on their future releases and throw in some more unique ideas, they’ll be huge. Trust me.