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Album Review: Greta Van Fleet – Anthem of the Peaceful Army

Greta Van Fleet may still be marketed as a bunch of kids merely reflecting their old school influences, but their first full-length album clearly strives for relevance beyond mere revivalism. Songs like “Age of Man” and “Watching Over” are longer and more dynamic than 2017’s comparably off-the-cuff From the Fires. The lyrics are also as full of hippie preaching as a title like Anthem of the Peaceful Army suggests.

The results are still within the Zeppelin mold, but there’s about as much time devoted to “Your Time is Gonna Come”-style folk jams as there is to “Out on the Tiles” rock romps. An overall laid-back atmosphere serves as a smooth unifier between styles, but the musicians are talented enough to keep transitions from getting too jarring. The subtle organ work throughout is nice, and “Brave New World” has a dark tinge by the otherwise easygoing band’s standards.

Of course, the band is still going through some growing pains. The guitars successfully transition between electric and acoustic formats and the drums can easily move to hand percussion, but the vocals aren’t as multi-faceted. Just about every song features that early era Geddy Lee wail and it gets exhausting even with a forty-three-minute runtime when there isn’t much to balance it out. It’s a relief when he finally reels it in on the closing “Anthem,” and I can imagine songs like “You’re the One” coming out stronger if they’d showed such restraint earlier.

Overall, Greta Van Fleet is a serviceable band, though one still best enjoyed in small doses. I admire their attempt to broaden their sound and it makes for a pleasant listen, but the vocals only highlight how much more work still needs to be done. The songs are solid, but it needs that energy boost or catchiness that made the songs on From the Fires so enjoyable. I’d recommend that release before this one, but this really doesn’t deserve the controversy aimed at it.

Highlights:
“When the Curtain Falls”
“You’re the One”
“Brave New World”

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