Payable On Death have made the best album of the year. Musically, they haven’t reinvented the wheel, but what they have done is thrown in some unique elements to record number eight that make it a pure standout. We have every type of song here that you can imagine a band like P.O.D. trying their hand at, and it all blends together so seamlessly. The album kicks off with Eyez (with Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed) and Murdered Love (which includes a killer twisted hook by Psycho Realm member Sick Jacken), a perfect duo that hit hard. We also have Higher (alternative/pop), West Coast Rock Steady (Cali. hip-hop/rock), Beautiful (power ballad), Panic and Run (punk)…the list goes on. P.O.D. are well versed in all of these styles, and they can blend them so well that each song sounds unique, but keep the soul of who P.O.D. is musically intact.
Lyrically, Sonny Sandoval has never been better than he is on this album. Now in contrast, earlier, I talked about how much I loved Jack’s White’s lyrics on Blunderbuss. They’re great. You know I think Owan Thomas wrote something truely unique and special with Languages (and he did). They’re both top-notch, but they’re dealing with earthly problems – love, loss, etc. They’re deep, but you can only get so far. The lyrics on Murdered Love deal with the big picture – faith, meaning, hope, eternity. The title track speaks of how each of us are all a part of the murder of our Creator. Higher and Lost In Forever both long for eternity, heaven, and the peace that will meet the faithful when we breathe that final breath here on this earth. Beautiful speaks of suicide, a lost girl trying to find her place in a world when there seems to be no hope for her left, and the reality that everyone’s life has true universal meaning, regardless of their circumstances. To bring some lightheartedness in a record full of deep issues, we get the completely-out-of-left-field Bad Boy. Sonny is looking for a good girl, one that he can take home to meet his momma – it’s fun stuff for sure. Rounding out the record is the controversial “I Am”, which is easily the most powerful and soul-baring track that these guys have ever recorded.
To quickly address the controversial scratched-out use of the word “f–k”, I simply don’t really care. It gives power to a statement being made in the song. Could they have done without it? Of course. Is it damning to use such a word in the song? Not one bit. The track speaks of us as human beings – flesh – and the inner battles that we face to have some sense of morals in such an immoral every-man-for-himself world…and we’re the immoral characters. Personally, it brings to mind Romans 7:15 – “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” It’s saying, “God, I know who I am, and I know who You are, so why is there all this complication with my desires on this earth?” It’s relatable all across the board, and it’s so admirable for someone to lay themselves bare like this. We’re all sinners. We all have some baggage. We all have our temptations. If we can’t be forward with them, what’s the point? God created community, and we’re in desperate need of it. It’s about the music, yes, but when you see respectable people playing music from the heart and living out their passions, there’s no way to be unimpressed.
P.O.D. played Nashville last year, and at the end of the show when it was all over and the lights had come up, Sonny jumped down to a kid in the front row who was clearly moved by the whole experience of the show, put his arm around his neck and just started praying with him. He’s not doing this for popularity. He’s not trying to be a star. What more do you want? The guys, the music, the lyrics – it’s top notch and completely respectable.
For the biggest question of all though: Is this record better than Satellite? Truth be told, it’s really impossible to choose. Most would probably say it isn’t, but I would argue that it gives it an extremely hard run for its money.
If you had to listen to one record in 2012: P.O.D. – Murdered Love