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Ivoryline
There Came A Lion
Tooth & Nail Records


At the end of the 1990's, the music industry was hit with the boy/girl band phenomena. Sweeping the nation were countless heavily processed foursomes and fivesomes of late teen/early twenty hotties with marginal singing ability and some cute dance moves. As we all know, this phase eventually died down, leaving some room for more heartfelt and genuine artists to make a name for themselves. But what happens when these artists begin to inundate our musical spectrum? A new genre has begun the metamorphises from underground sensation, to mainstream wonder, to now, a downward decent. In the case of the much-loved (and sometimes hated) genre of pop-punk, the turning point from new and exciting to stale and repetitive seems to have been reached.

And there is no better way to fully display this sad fact than by listening to Texas hopefuls Ivoryline and their full-length debut There Came A Lion. It's not a bad album by any stretch. It features all the components to making a decent genre record - They go soft when they should and are loud the rest of the time, they sing about the right topics and drum and scream and wail in all the right places. But this by-the-book, "Dummy's Guide to Pop-Punk" approach to music is becoming more than just boring, it's utterly monotonous.

Weighted lyrics, dramatic titles and earnest vocals would lead listeners to believe that this is a band with something to say, but when it comes down to bare bones, it feels just like any other ten-plus track set that drones on and on about former lovers and heartbreak. And after acts like Dashboard Confessional, Taking Back Sunday and, more recently, Fall Out Boy, successfully worked that introspective angle to the hilt, it is slim pickings to find something new and refreshing to cry and patter on about.

Ivoryline's religious stance, which has been mentioned in interviews with the band, could label them with the title of Christian rock, and although a repellent to many of today's hard-rocking youths, [it] at least it gives them a different angle on which to work their music. But although their personal beliefs do make an appearance on album-opener "Days End", the majority of the remaining tracks are plain old pop-punk fodder for Hot Topic masses (if they are even still interested).

It feels cruel and unfair to attack Ivoryline with this abuse - had this album come out five years ago, then maybe there would have been some ground not yet trodden down. But as is, little really separates this decent-yet-bland collection of tracks from the likes of any other number of more successful acts out today. With so many similar artists crowding the shelves at record stores, Ivoryline offers little incentive to listeners to pick up their album as opposed to a well-known act that they may already be comfortable with. And until something unique comes along, I fear Ivoryline may be stuck as an opening act to those who do this genre just a little bit better.

-Josh Page

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