Nashville quintet Manic Bloom released its self-titled, self-recorded EP in June. I was pretty impressed by the self-recorded bit, because the album sounds solid.
I kept trying to classify Manic Bloom. I discovered that sometimes vocalist David Stevenson sounds like a fluffier version of Incubus’ Brandon Boyd, the dramatic keyboard and piano work by Jeff Hildebrand sounds like something you might find in ’90s pop songs, and, ever so often, guitarist Matt Lawrence goes a little Dream Theater on his piece.
I even felt the lyrics. It’s hard not to, that’s really what the songs focus around, the music isn’t really captivating enough to stand on its own. All five songs are dramatically and emotionally running through stories of personal growth, relationship woes and “Betrayal.”
But still, I couldn’t place it. Then Google told me Manic Bloom was playing the Kentucky Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church this year, and the missing piece snapped into place. They’re Christian rock! It all made sense.
All the signs are there, dramatic progressions, an overt focus on the vocals, and songs about redemption, guilt, avoiding being evil, and life not being good without some mysterious missing piece. Of course, none of the songs name the big G, but that’s the trendy thing to do in the sort-of-Christian genre. The trick is to make clean songs that aren’t overtly Jesus-centric, but it’s pretty easy to pick out the themes once you know what to listen for.
My favorite track on the five-song EP (well, technically it’s six tracks, because the introduction to “What Scares You Most” deserves its own track number apparently) is “Running From the Scene” mostly because Stevenson’s Maroon-Five-esque rap section is a lot of fun, even though the rest of the track is a little repetitive and singsong for my taste.
So if you’re in the mood for some moody music with a piano and brooding vocals that you can find a Christian slant to if you want, try Manic Bloom.