The Golden Rule
Above the Golden State may not be considered a total throwback to '90s alternative playfulness, yet there's no doubt that the Oregon band's sound resembles old-school Weezer and Marcy Playground much more than it does Linkin Park. With only six tracks, most of which clock in at three to three and a half minutes, there's certainly not enough material to develop an entirely new theme. Instead, lead vocalist and songwriter Michael Watson chalks up another round of punk-inspired power pop. The lyrical themes, though based on scripture, are overly simplistic and aimed at young listeners who may have questions about God and their relationship to Him. Each track wraps linear Christian messages in lighthearted rock energy. And while this makes for a playful connection with fans, the lack of substance on the album is readily apparent. "Tragedy" is the only departure from their happy-ending formula, closing the disc with more depth and a sobering message delivered with the album's catchiest rock riff. While it lacks the meat of the band's debut, The Golden Rule is a fun ride that shows continued potential.