Christmas Island brings in new genre influences for the band. They've always had a folk influence, but the fullness of the record takes it into an indie-pop and indie-rock territory that they never fully reached before. The album is also better produced. There's still grit and fuzz, but it actually feels closer to In The Aeroplane Over The Sea at times than All Hail West Texas.
Incidentally, the band takes influence from both Neutral Milk Hotel and The Mountain Goats on this record. The reverb and the incorporation of a more developed sound are reminiscent of Neutral Milk Hotel, but lead singer and principal songwriter Sean Bonnette is a John Darnielle fan, and he lets that shine through both lyrically and in the more stripped down songs on the record.
Andrew Jackson Jihad are well known for their pushing their lyrics to the brink of what would be considered acceptable or controversial, and that doesn't change on this album. Bonnette's songwriting remains dark, sarcastic, irreverent and clever. The opening track, "Temple Grandin," is a commentary on the downfall of society, but instead of using words like "blind," "deaf," and "dumb" to describe people ignoring the problems of society, Bonnette substitutes "Stevie Wonder" to represent blind, "Hellen Keller" for deaf and "Temple Grandin" for dumb. It's exactly those kinds of lyrics that make Andrew Jackson Jihad songs stand out. They are incredibly outside of the box, but they make you think and make you laugh.
Bonnette constantly finds creative ways to describe fears and anxieties throughout this album. "Linda Ronstadt" deals with the central character having a mental breakdown while viewing an exhibit in a museum about Linda Ronstadt. He laments in the chorus, "I almost made it through the year of choking down my fears but they're gone for now all thanks to Linda Ronstadt." Bonnette takes an absurd situation and makes it somehow relatable, doing what many people do, blaming their problems on something else.
This album may not be for everyone. People may be turned off by Bonnette's bluntness and the offensiveness of some of the lyrics, but Andrew Jackson Jihad are great because, although their sound may change, their personality and identity as a group will always remain. In the last lines of "Angel Of Death" the band name the devil Trevor and make his last words "Bad Lieutenant 2 is the greatest movie ever!" No other band would think to end an album that way and that's what makes them so special.