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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

New Flyleaf album conveys hope and and revival

Published: September 19, 2014
Section: Arts, Etc.

Flyleaf’s new album “Between the Stars” came out Sept. 16, with fans waiting a good three years before new songs were finally released online and even still, the songs and lyrics were not easy or weren’t even accessible on the internet.

The band’s songs, even though they are still based heavily on guitar, are less hard-core punk than its older songs used to be. “Between the Stars” seems to reflect the next stage of life for the band, with the stars a symbol of guidance, clarity and revival. It’s also a representation of the free-flowing experience and environment that the musicians prefer to work under.

The album cover is very artistic in presentation and serves to illustrate the struggle balanced by the beauty of life. The background of the cover is space in order to convey the setting of the album title, with the stars and the dark. Then floating in the desolation is a personification of hope, a sort of life raft with a creature sitting down on it, not quite confident with him or herself to stand up but also willing to rise up against the challenges. This is depicted by the flowers that are popping out of the person’s head. The red roses are also a symbol of passion, which is an important motif that is continuously referenced to in this album.

This progression is seen in vocalist Kristen Mays’ influences. Her favorite artists early on in her life include Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Fiona Apple and Sarah McLaughlin. Most of them carry alternative folk vibes, and then her influences tone down to more mainstream bands such as U2, Coldplay and Radiohead.

The song “Set Me On Fire” definitely reflects this sense of revitalized hope. At the beginning, there is a progression of struggle, with the “cold, dark world” starting to manifest the main character in the song. However, the tone shifts to more of a determined one, with the words “spark,” “burning bright” and “pulse.” More of the lyrics indicate this vivid, blazing force: “You are a spark that shines a light/Where we could belong together, factionless/Let’s keep it burning bright ‘til we’re floating away,/’til we’re ashes dancing inside the flames.” The metaphor and imagery suggest that this exciting, exhilarating force they refer to as love is what’s keeping the individual surviving.

In an interview with Mays, she reveals that her inspiration for this song actually came from the book Divergent. After discovering that author Veronica Roth was a huge fan of Flyleaf, May began writing about the character of Tris, who was at first scared of all these new experiences she had to face. Despite her fear, however, she bravely jumped into each challenge in order to feel alive. “The line ‘Set Me On Fire’ is how you feel when you have a passion that live inside you” Mays added.

The interview also discusses how Mays joined the band. At first, she was in a band called Vedera and got a call from her agent, asking if she’d be willing to play for them. Slowly, it grew into her passion.

This sort of passion seems to be the underlying theme especially present in this album. Song titles like “Magnetic,” “Traitor” and “Head Underwater” suggest this emotional charge. However, there is a huge shift in tone from wanting to “feel you closer” as you “Pull me places I’ve never been/There is a light inside you that hypnotizes/Where I am ending is where you begin” most likely referring to their significant other. In contrast, “Traitor” as the title suggests, has a more bitter tone towards the person: “I’ll no longer keep you a friend of mine” in “Traitor” and “I won’t be the one to hold you/Let go of my hand/This is the sober serenade/I won’t be the one/who knows you/Let go of my hand” in the song “Sober Serenade”.

The somber lyrics, however, are balanced by the rest of the songs in the album, with their titles initially suggesting that the songs are about fear, but “Avalanche” and “Home” are about getting up from the tumult and reminding yourself that there is a light to at the end of the starry tunnel, a place to look forward to and a new life to move on to.