ever since The Distance to Here, Ed & co have become radically more recalcitrant about their [ambiguous] religious second wind. TDTH swayed towards a kind of fuzzy spirituality, V was like a drunken pastor who knew one Jimmy Page riff and thought beat machines were like hot cakes, and Birds of Pray is a failed attempt to strip away the trends of their prior works for a more visceral attitude. well that's great, really it is. but he still says nothing that wasn't said during TDTH and V. i have no problem with an artist's spiritual awareness and if religion makes you play better than drugs and alcohol, then go for it. but Live still make the mistake of believing that the same spiritual exigence exists for their listeners. the result: ruefully unoriginal preaching. it isn't enough that Ed has to beat you over the head with the religious stick but also manages to buy a nice crucifix to festoon your living room with. and for someone who doesn't believe in a god Live's entire religious schtick seems to be nothing than a ruse to cover up the fact that they are artistically handicapped.
the riffs, though a welcomed return, are still base and sound like (ta da!) something DC Talk or any other Christian band would use. i don't really get it. Stone Temple Pilots went through a similar 'happy' period with Shang Gri-La Di Da but managed not to stray too far into the poppy fields of Romantic blithe. 'Wonderful' and 'A Song for Noah' in no way come close to the transparent, clownish optimism of 'Heaven' and 'What are We Fighting For?' it's all too much cheese to tolerate. i really hoped that, after the disaster called V, the group would revert to their strongest moments. but i think at this point they're a lost cause, which is sad because they held the most promise. not many bands have exhibited such an abject artistic station and a lack of proper reflection after such unanimous artistic accolade. but now their act is tired and so are their fans.
what a disgrace.