"Painted mirrors all aging with cracks/Which way and how far?/I will try to reach the landscape of where you begin/Not the reflection of what I pretend … Lift back the veil that hides you from me."
— from "Summertime"
Seattle band Sunny Day Real Estate is often credited for launching modern emo rock movement in the mid–'90s with their debut, Diary. The sound is typically characterized by melodic rock with emotionally potent vocals and lyrics, punctuated with punk or hard rock tendencies. Despite the acclaim and their following, they split up after two albums. Lead singer and guitarist Jeremy Enigk recorded a solo project, while drummer William Goldsmith and bassist Nate Mendel helped form Foo Fighters with Dave Grohl.
The reason for the split was Enigk's renewed Christian faith in 1995. Although his lyrics rarely addressed faith, Enigk apparently boldly stated his beliefs on the band's website. In 2001, he told HM magazine, "When you have God on your side, you don't need anything else. So, I had no problem quitting the band because it didn't hold anything of value to me anymore." It should also be noted that Enigk told HM in 2000 that he wasn't so much into the religion of Christianity (e.g. church attendance) as he was about making God a central and important part of his life.
Putting spiritual differences aside, Enigk reunited with Goldsmith and guitarist Dan Hoehner to record two more albums before permanently ending Sunny Day Real Estate in 2002. Now Enigk has teamed with Goldsmith and Mendel (both have since left Foo Fighters) to make a fresh start as The Fire Theft. Picking up where SDRE left off and shedding their emo leanings in favor of a more modern progressive rock sound, this is a stunning rock record—the instrumental "Rubber Bands" is truly something to behold. Imagine a hodgepodge of indie and emo rock that puts influences by Smashing Pumpkins, Live, The Who, Led Zeppelin, and even some Yes on display (there's an uncanny similarity between Enigk's strong falsetto range and that of Jon Anderson's). It's also worth mentioning that Sleeping at Last cites Sunny Day Real Estate as one of their strongest influences; now The Fire Theft sounds more like Sleeping at Last's melodic art rock.
The Fire Theft is lyrically abstract, leaving much open to interpretation, yet these words are more straightforward than Enigk's notoriously cryptic lyrics for SDRE. They are essentially his spiritual journal, expressing the highs and lows of his life. The most obvious example of this is "Uncle Mountain," which describes a crisis of faith in light of seemingly insurmountable odds: "I can hear you talking/We're doing all the walking/I'm stuck here in the middle/At war with good and evil … I want love if love wants me/I want God if God wants me." Similar longings for restoration and renewal can also be found in "Carry You" and "It's Over," and it comes to a head in "Sinatra" with spiritual rhetoric not exclusive to Christianity: "Believe in all the good things you keep inside/There is no freedom in life without freedom of mind/I find myself running from fate whether or not I'm hunted by circumstance."
Despite all the soul searching here, there are also declarations of faith. Knowing that Enigk has embraced Christian beliefs, there's little question to whom he's singing in "Summertime" (excerpted above). And in the especially powerful "Heaven," Enigk screams out, "It's the simple things that are so hard to grasp/Can't find myself in all the days that passed/But I can feel it when it shines/Nevermind, I'm falling in love with you." The Fire Theft is a terrific start musically for the newly revised band. It is also a spiritual–tinged album that offers few clear–cut answers as Enigk continues to sort out his faith in the pursuit of truth.
Unless specified clearly, we are not implying whether this artist is or is not a Christian. The views expressed are simply the author's. For a more complete description of our Glimpses of God articles, click here.