Brink, by Eden Burning
Suggested by Stuart Taylor (Guilty Pleasure)
Today, October 30th 2020, is the thirty-third anniversary of the release of George Michael’s debut solo album, Faith.
After five long year toiling at the Whamface, the pop superstar and manic miner emerged, bleary-eyed, from the platinum mines and cranked out a nine-track primer of historic pop. seven of the nine were released as singles. The title track, Faith, placed the highest at number two… not quite claiming Top of the Pops, but acting as the sherpa handing a flask of tea to the mountaineer at the summit.
In 1987, I didn’t care for Faith, or George Michael. Introduce Yourself was released that same year, and I was much more interested in Faith No More. Sure, they didn’t hit their stardom stride until Chuck Moseley left and Mike Patton arrived, but I still cared a lot for the writers of We Care A Lot.
Eden Burning were a band from Cheltenham, led by Paul Northup. They formed in 1989, a full two years after the release of George Michael’s Faith and Faith No More’s Introduce Yourself. However, Faith did play a big role in Eden Burning’s creation and burgeoning success. Because Eden Burning are a Christian band.
BOOM! THERE’S YOUR INTRO, FOLKS! QUALITY ENTERTAINMENT! *mic drop*
The phrase “Christian Band” gives me pause. I feel it’s a signifier, a pointer towards a certain zealotry that you wouldn’t find in say, a band who are Christians. “Christian Band” conjures up an image of the shiny eyed acolyte heaven-bent on converting the unfaithful, while a band who are Christians could simply be a musical collaboration between Messrs Slater, Bale and Terry. I’m immediately wary of the album’s Message-with-a-capital-M… while I’m happy to give it a listen, I’ve polished my Scimitar of Righteous Atheism just in case.
I needn’t have worried. Lyrically, there’s little more than a slight focus on spreading the word of The Lord (who’s not to be confused with the Lorde). The songs are uniformly encouraging and uplifting, each offering solace and comfort in a seemingly non-denominational and judgmental way. They’re almost sweet, if anything, and there’s not a hint of the predatory conversion therapy lurking in the shadows.
But the fact I’m surprised at this does reflect badly on me. What on earth did I expect? I’m a fan of WWE wrestling, and I get irritated when I mention it in passing because everyone, everyone, immediately responds with “you know it’s all fake, right?” I’m sure that people with actual faith , when talking about this stuff and hearing the glib comment of “you’re not trying to convert me, are you?” must roll their eyes super-hard. Before turning the other cheek, of course.
Sadly, while I’ve no beef with the Christianity, I’m not particularly enraptured by the music. It’s light pop-rock with an almost folky feel, but there’s very little drive or bite. The sounds feel perfunctory, and the singing lacklustre. There are a few nice moments, such as my standout Big Regret, but overall I can’t go beyond 5/10. While it channels The Beautiful South and The Wonder Stuff, it’s less beautiful and wondrous than both.