Spring Sprang Sprung
(Good Earth Records)
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About halfway into Builder's debut disc, the fact that it wasn't intended for a traditional rock-and-roll audience is pretty much inescapable, not unlike the sound of "Jesus Knocking" on his front door that Mike Crawford, former frontman for The Spin, describes toward the end of the album. Well, actually, that audience is probably exactly the one the band wants to hear Spring Sprang Sprung, the kind of sinful crowd that needs to do more with their lives than fill their lungs with smoke and stomachs with whiskey. You know, the kind of people that need to be saved. The band -- featuring local vets Jim Cocke (About Nine Times, Mildred), Pete Coatney (Rumble, Jack Ingram), and Crawford -- is so zealous in its faith, so over-the-top in its commitment to Christianity, that unless you share that passion, that need to testify about your salvation, you can't help but be slightly put off by Spring Sprang Sprung. This is straight church-basement fare, folk rock for the masses, or perhaps just after them, accompanied by fruit punch in Styrofoam cups and the very serious fun of Sunday-school games.
And that is the main problem with Spring Sprang Sprung: The band never really lets up. They never just play a song about nothing in particular, never rock just to hear the sound of themselves doing it. Could be that they feel they've done enough of that in their other bands, but still, not every song needs to be missionary work with a melody. Each and every track on Spring Sprang Sprung is Biblical in nature, complete with a chapter and verse to look up listed in the liner notes so you can better understand what Crawford is going on about. Of course, the group probably knows that much of its message will fall on deaf ears outside of church camps and Fellowship of Christian Athletes mixers. As Crawford says during his CD-booklet explanation of "The Sower," "It's not a waste of time to talk with people about God, even if you don't think people are getting it or paying attention."
Fact is, the people Builder wants to reach won't get this, and the people that do get it probably already have a dozen albums on hand with the same message delivered in much the same way. If nothing else, at least the band churns out a sound -- think Jackopierce with a purpose -- that doesn't get in the way of Crawford's lyrics about how his relationship with his wife is a gift from God ("Reverie"), how his perspective on life changed thanks to God ("Perception"), and how God has made him a better parent ("Sonofagun"). Seriously, it's just too serious at times, or maybe that's just the lapsed-Catholic side of me talking. No, it's not a bad thing for a record to take you to a spiritual place, to talk about things other than broken hearts and all the other stuff that seems much more important than it really is. Spring Sprang Sprung, however, is so overbearing in its piety, it might as well be a Jehovah's Witness at my front door.