Prime Cuts: The Comment Section, You Were There, The Light
Overall Grade: 3.5/5
You've got to give credit where credit is due. Sidewalk Prophets must have realized that it's transient to pander after CCM radio with forgettable hits. So, for their first non-seasonal record since 2015, the team has taken steps to create music that will give them more grit and longevity. "The Things that Got Us Here" finds Sidewalk Prophets delving deeper in at least two fronts. First, on this record, you will find more narrative songs with plots that are more scintillating and memorable. Second, for a band with the word "prophet" in its titular, they have decided to live up to their name with songs that are more prophetic in nature, such that, they speak to our current situations in ways that sing and sting. However, as much as strikes have been made to elevate their repertoire from the trite and recycled, the majority of the songs are still quite vanilla.
Now, let's start with the better cuts first. The best song out of this generous offering of 14 songs is "The Comment Section." Now this is the type of songs that matter: a chilling piano ballad that speaks about the unkindness of cyber-bullying and cyber-pollution. When the bridge ropes in Jesus admonition to "love our enemies," the song takes on a prophetic poignancy that is cutting to the soul. This song seriously deserves to be widely heard in today's e-culture. "You Were There" trumps in terms of the song's attention to details. Chronicled with lots of whimsical moments from the protagonist's "mowing my backyard with the walkman on" to watching "the sunset fade and felt reborn," the song celebrates how God is with us in every moment.
Of note is "The Light" --- a scintillating expose of how God miraculously and mysteriously breaks into our lives. The specificity of the songs again is what makes this track a winner. In terms of catchy pop hooks, "Smile" will get you to do just what the title says. But it's far from a frivolous piece; rather, it's an exposition of the biblical truth of how we can count it all joy even when we are faced with trials. "Don't You Think It's Time," a song about spending quality time with our loved ones, has a breezy Tim McGraw that ought to appeal to those whose taste lean towards contemporary country music.
The rest of the songs are more or less anonymous uptempo pop entries. Though they boast first rate production, they sound like many of the songs you hear all over the radio. Their subject matters are as predictable as their titles ("There's a Way," "Thank You Jesus," and "Let Go of your Troubles"). They may secure for the band a few more radio hits but they are by no means distinctive or memorable. There's nothing that jumps right out at you as "The Comment Section" does.