Although it lacked the marketing blitz that benefited another biblically inspired 2007 album by a husband-and-wife team (cough, Arcade Fire, cough), David and Meredith Metcalf's vastly superior debut album offers an even more spiritually exuberant, theologically challenging and musically inventive meditation on Christianity from the inside-out. Musically, the Metcalfs (along with drummer Jessie Conklin and bassist Kyle Gladdin) sound steeped in the vintage '60s orchestral pop of the Association, Fifth Dimension, the Mamas & the Papas and a healthy dollop of loud and extravagant musical theatrics pitched to the upper balcony. "We are screamers, we are singers," they proclaim in the final track, as though it might have somehow escaped our attention.
David Metcalf's beguiling imagery brims with the sort of wide-screen special effects ("He spoke and locusts came out of the sky/ Water gushed out from the rock," runs a typical lyric) you might expect of four Angelenos more than mildly acquainted with the entertainment-industrial complex. Twangy Morricone guitars and unlikely Bible-school miracles unspool in "Doves Circled the Sky." The Metcalfs borrow liturgical call and response in "I Heard It Sound" ("What'd it see?/ Desire split in thirds/ How'd it feel?/ The strain was immense") but come firmly down to earth in "It Is Familiar" ("When you bend over into the fridge/ And try to grab some Tupperware/ I'll surprise you and pour the half and half/ Onto your newly sunburned neck"). Nearly every track — although you might want to start with the ecstatic excess of "These Are the Eyes" or "Here Comes My Hand" — delivers a stirring epiphany of sound and spirit. And you don't need to accept the context to appreciate the power.