Bleach – Astronomy (CD)

While most of the Christian music scene is often referred to as being relatively stale, having bands emulate the style of what is successful in the secular market instead of going their own way, Bleach simply doesn’t fit into that stereotype. Moving from punk to hard rock to introspective, Beatle-esque piano-rock in “Patience”, Bleach really is not happy driving themselves in a rut track in and track out. While “Patience” is a longer track, Bleach can find those melodies that are needed for the track to be palatable for all individuals that listen to it. Every track has some sold instrumentation, but the breakthrough for the band would have to be “Break Through”, using an emotive bass line to compete with the splashing-high hats of the drums. The sonic assault of “Plan to Pull Through” is countered by the minor amount of synthesizers on the track, with Dave’s vocals cutting through the intentional fuzz of the track.

Mixing the best of late nineties alternative music with the emo-rock of the current period to create something more than either of those movements, Bleach makes a solid album that has all the sensibilities of pop music with the credibility of independent music. Using a vocal attack that is more a mixture of Rivers Cuomo with Brand New’s Jesse, Bleach has a set of vocals that are sugary-sweet but are not overproduced – they actually sound as if they could come from a human being. Ending the disc with “Jaded Now”, Bleach goes into full-on epic mode, with sprawling guitars that would be just as in place on a Pink Floyd album as they are on “Astronomy”.

Overall, this is an album that mixes an bevy of influenced and distills them into one of the better sounding Christian albums I’ve heard. Heavily produced without losing all humanity, Astronomy is one of those albums that can approach a problem – what shall we write about – 11 different ways and come out with 11 different solutions. This album is transcendent of genre, and should be put alongside the modern-day standards of Brand New’s “Deja Entendu” and Drive Til Morning’s album. Make sure to pick this up and try to see them live, as they are going to be calling it quits here soon. Being able to cut a solid album in the time of genre over-saturation and singles-oriented radio play is really an accomplishment, yet Bleach do it with the greatest of ease.

Rating: 7.2/10

Top Tracks : Patience, 19

Bleach – Astronomy / 11 Tracks / 2003 Tooth and Nail / http://www.bleached.com / http://www.toothandnail.com / Released 21 October 2003 / Reviewed 29 January 2004

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