Anberlin’s Dance, Dance Christa Paffgen
One of the Best Epic Songs of 00’s
By Aaron Binder
The most promising of bands often have trouble following up on their first couple albums and, unfortunately, Anberlin falls into this group. While they’ve flirted with mainstream success since 2008, they’ve never been able to find the balance between writing epic radio rock songs while maintaining integrity throughout a whole album. The depth they once exhibited from songwriting to lyrics has been reduced to the limbo of formulaic, Butch Vig style, Alternative New Rock with only a song or two per album exhibiting their true capabilities.
When digging through their back-catalogue, though, there are so many high-points it becomes difficult to understand how such a decline can happen when a band’s foundation is so solid. For Anberlin, the magic on Cities, Blueprints for the Black Market and Never Take Friendship Personal had been replaced with faded cardinal points too difficult to read.
Regardless of their current flolloping, Anberlin does have an impressive catalogue with incredible high-points. And where these mountains soar majestic, none are higher than Dance, Dance Christa Paffgen, a dangerously charted journey through the darkest parts of human nature.
If there were one song that gave Anberlin staying power both live and on album, it is absolutely this one. The book-end to, arguably, their best album, Dance, Dance Christa Paffgen is sexy, demure, spirited and aurally engaging in ways that don’t just titillate but engorge the senses.
Led Zeppelin may have perfected the epic 7 minute song but Anberlin updated it to modern standards and managed to set them high enough that few could dare try and usurp them. The opening drum blasts bleed sinister emotion, wrapping the listener in a cocoon coloured grey by matching bass. Shortly thereafter Stephen Christian’s vocals puncture through and lift the listener out onto young wings, wafting upward on delicate guitar licks.
The first 30 seconds of this song are a hypnotist’s demure voice dropping his subject into a deep coma. The next 6 and a half minutes are him prancing his subjects in front of an enthralled crowd as he masterfully puppets their every response and action.
Anberlin is well known and respected for their exceptional guitar layering and fabulous melody and in the case of Dance, Dance, they reach a lofty pinnacle – the highest in their expansive range. Everything fits together so perfectly in this song that it is their Decline, In A Gadda Da Vida or Foreplay/Long Time. Much like early Country artists, Anberlin tells a story from beginning to end, encapsulating the listener, guaranteeing those 7 minutes are spent simply exploring sound and story.
That’s where this song grips you, the compelling and choking story of Nico – muse of the Warhol world, influencer of generations to come. In the way that the story of Brand New’s Limousine strikes through the heart for those that dig deeper, Dance, Dance holds the same affection to a heart-wrenching story.
While Anberlin has decided to call it quits in 2014, their legacy will be defined by songs like this where they broke free from their formula and truly created a transcendent experience for themselves and their listeners. Dance, Dance Christa Paffgen is nothing short of an epic masterpiece that defines the highest peak of Anberlin’s career.