Album Review :
Tongue&Pen - The Likeness EP

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Artist: Tongue&Pen
Title: The Likeness EP
Label: Come&Live!
Release Date: 12/01/11
Reviewer: Carter Fraser


  1. Rescue
  2. Sons and Daughters
  3. Likeness of a Peaceful City

Perhaps the thing that I struggle with most in modern worship music is the way it approaches its grandeur. The way I hear it, a good amount of worship music seems to be based in simple pop rock-isms, and then it’s infused with post-rock crescendos after the main portion of the song develops. I think this is one reason why people talk about “worship clichés;” pop rock rarely strives to be anything too creative, for better or worse, because it’s intended to be accessible, just as worship is. Post-rock, on the other hand, in isolation, can be extremely creative and expressive, because post-rock artists know that they can essentially try anything, no matter how bizarre it is, and their artsy, hip fans will embrace it for its uniqueness. So in combining the two, you get essentially two verses, probably a chorus of sorts, and then a long bridge/solo, which is essentially a long, building, instrumental climax. However, this instrumental part is still intrinsically tied to the pop rock song before it, and so you get generic tremolo picking that draws more on the idea of post-rock rather than any of the products of it.  I’m generalizing quite a bit, and obviously there are numerous exceptions, but hopefully you get the idea.

So then the main thing that Pen&Tongue do differently is that they have at least changed up the formula a bit and made a cleaner integration. The Likeness has a stronger rock backbone, and the post-rock elements are more obvious throughout the entirety of the songs. There’s still a lot of tremolo picking, but it’s done all the time, and its near constant presence actually succeeds in providing an atmosphere that feels much tighter and more organic. Opener “Rescue” is a driving light indie rock song at its core, with energetic sampled spoken word being used quite well towards the end. “Sons and Daughters” is fairly straightforward in its structure (as described in paragraph one), but manages to not be nearly as obvious in its delivery as it could have been, taking advantage of a strong central melody and a rousing chorus. Closer “Likeness of a Peaceful City” is entirely instrumental and flows nicely out of the previous track. It demonstrates Tongue&Pen’s ability to write a short instrumental composition with enough bite to draw the listener in. It’s a nice finish too because it shows Tongue&Pen’s competence when relying solely on instrumentals while still sounding stylistically cohesive, as the previous two songs have more of a straightforward rock edge.

Overall: While only three songs, The Likeness sounds noticeably complete. It’s a good sign of things to come, if they can prove that they can explore more ground than has been explored here. Recommended for fans of more upbeat worship, and indie rockers will probably find something to like here as well.

RIYL: sosaveme, Abandon, Weaver at the Loom, Across Waters, Explosions in the Sky