Prime Cuts: Guilty, Crazy, No Longer a Slave
Some albums are destined for the discount bins. They are those which are made to pacify the trend watchers with disposable tunes that you could toss away as fast as Ramen's plastic wrapping. Not so with Newsboys' latest release "Love Riot." In many ways, Newsboys have sonically evolved with the times. They have segued well into today's music capitalizing on today's blast of post-grunge rock and big bubbly synth-driven emo. Thus, unlike many of their peers who have faded into retirement, Newsboys still are able to command attention on the charts. Likewise, copious hits are latent in this package. But what is most rewarding about "Love Riot" is that Newsboys has also delve deep in the lyrical department. Don't let single word titles on this set ("Crazy," "Hero," "Guilty," "Earthquake" and "Committed"), Newsboys does dispense some greater theological truths with many of these songs.
"Crazy," the album's sophomore and current single, is not a mindless teenage musical escapade. Rather, taking to heart the mind blowing teachings of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount, "Crazy" is a succinct depiction of what a kingdom-driven lifestyle looks like. "Hero" (no, not that Mariah Carey song) is more or less a standard song of worship where Jesus is exalted as our hero. Disappointing though is that the song utilizes the same tropes you can find in countless worship songs: the blazing guitar riffs, the "whoo-ooh" shout-outs and those anthemic choruses. Much less cliché is "Guilty." As the lead single from the upcoming movie "God's Not Dead 2," "Guilty" utilizes the Biblically driven law-atonement imagery effectively over a well-developed power ballad template.
With their penchant to record worship favorites, it's a delight to hear Newsboys' rendition of Bethel Music's "No Longer a Slave." Though this worship ballad has invited many covers, Michael Tait sings with a verve backed by a choir that is majestically stirring. With the prevalence of the self in today's culture, it's a rare fleet to hear a song about the church. In this regard, "Family of God" is a song that deserves wide circulation. However, "Committed" suffers too much from an overtly clustered sound; it would have been more effective in a more stripped down backing. The same can be said about emo-driven "What I Want Them to Say."
Though "Love Riot" isn't perfect, but it sounds fresh, creative and engaging. With words that wrestle with deep Biblical truths over tunes that speak to both young and old fans, this album not only satisfies the ear, but it also feeds the heart.