The Afters

Back when they were called Blisse, these boys could pack The Door. Now they're nabbing high-profile autograph sessions at Virgin Megastore? How did this happen? These days, The Afters have stopped trying to pretend they're not a Christian band, and their album I Wish We All Could Win feels healthier and happier for it. Unlike other schlocky contemporary Christian music, this album boasts quality production that ranks alongside modern rock radio hits. The band has gelled, finding a natural balance between showmanship and musicianship. Vocals are languid and listenable, just rarin' for heavy radio rotation. The Afters aren't yet a powerhouse like locals Radiant*, but after their major-label makeover, they're getting closer to headliner status. And while the Jesus talk might limit their audience, I doubt they'll mind, what with all that romantic and Christian love floating around. Seriously, boys, I count three songs with "love" in the title, two with "beautiful," not to mention the limitless amounts of hope. Is crossover ready for all this happiness?