The Waiting Room
Tooth & Nail, 2002
REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/09/2005
The challenge with any Christian band is to sound appealing to a mainstream audience while having a message pure enough to appeal to Christians.
It's not as easy as it sounds. Members with Christians are not Christian bands per se, like Chevelle and U2, while those who have had crossover success have their faith called into question, like Amy Grant and P.O.D.
It is highly unlikely that Poor Old Lu will ever reach a degree of success, which is a shame, because they sound great. Longtime fans of the group may resist The Waiting Room, their newest release, but anyone new to the band will notice the made-for-radio songs.
Taking five years off from recording, the Seattle quartet learned how to produce, and the songs here could easily fit alongside Puddle of Mudd and 3 Doors Down on rock radio. As with most modern rock, though, the emphasis is on power chords and angst-ridden vocals, not guitar pyrotechnics and drum solos (oh, how I miss the '70s, and I was born in 1983).
Anyway, there is not much here to distinguish this record from similar-sounding peers, which means if you like what's on rock radio, you will like this. The group shows some restraint in the vocals, never resorting to screaming or rapping; lyrically, lines like "I hope for strength to stand / I hope to be the man that I should be" pepper the album with more emotion than usual for this type of band, but less than Poor Old Lu has offered in the past (check out their 1998 song "Rail" for an example.)
There are small flourishes here and there that pique interest -- the U2-sounding introduction to "Sunlight and Shadows," the funky instrumental "Interlude," the acoustic moodiness of "Praying" -- and the music is never explicitly Christian or mainstream. Which is good news to fans of this sound, but falling in the middle of the scale is a dangerous ground to walk, and Poor Old Lu needs a little more to offer before they attempt it.