Album Review :
Mainstay - Become Who You Are

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Artist: Mainstay
Album: Become Who You Are
Label: BEC Recordings
Release Date: September 25, 2007
Review by: Eric Pettersson

Tracklist:
1. Become Who You Are
2. Stars Are Singing
3. Away from You
4. Where Your Heart Belongs
5. Am I Keeping You?
6. Believe
7. Only One
8. Island
9. When You Come Down
10. Roads
11. Story
12. Don’t I Look the Same
13. Hang On

BEC Recordings has come a long way since The Adventures of the O.C. Supertones. Over the years, the label has switched its focus from being the home of the best-selling T&N bands to home of the more openly Christian artists that sign to the Nail’s empire. Of this newer wave of bands, Mainstay seem to be a perfect example. At first look, the album art makes this CD appear to be something that would fit along the ranks of indie-scenster-rock’s finest, but once the play button has been hit, it is obvious that Mainstay would better fit with their video playing inside of an American Eagle store than in a Hot Topic. (Personally, I think it’s absurd that musical preference and clothing style are generally so closely linked, but this is the culture we live in.)

The melodically distorted guitars of the title track start this album off with a pop rock flair that will continue throughout the rest of the record. Many church youth groups will flock to this release with its clean blend of melody and energy fit for any church van on the way to a weekend camping event. But know that these youth groups are the ones who prefer the Creation Festival to Cornerstone. The latter will not find much interest here and ignore Mainstay along with the rest of their labelmates. But for those who dig it, this is a worthwhile pop rock effort. “Am I Keeping You?” drives the fun loving energy up, while songs like “Where Your Heart Belongs” and “Only One” are slow reminders of our need for Jesus. One of my favorite reminders comes on “Island” when the chorus smoothly and softly sings “No man is an island,” helping listeners to keep in mind that we are all in this together and that we affect (and are affected by) others constantly. These slower songs can get a little monotonous and boring by the end of the album, and I wish Mainstay had focused more on their upbeat side, but for those who can get into slow acoustic/electric blends with radio-friendly vocals, this will be right up your alley. And Mainstay does keep an even mix of slow and fast songs.

Mainstay are what I would have called “Prep Rock” in high school, referring to the sub-genre’s popularity among those who dress in a style called “Preppy,” but that is really an unfair (albeit convenient) name. Become Who You Are is a pop rock record full of melody and deliberately Christian lyrics. Fans of Leeland and Sanctus Real will most likely find a new friend in Mainstay.

7/10

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