Prime Cuts: Alibi, Hills and Horizons, Just So Good
Overall Grade: 4/5
After working on their debut album for DREAM Records for over two years, Futures has finally unveiled their labor of love. For the unacquainted, Futures is the pop/worship expression of Influencers Church in Australia & the USA. Upbeat, encouraging, and bursting with a fresh ray of energy, the pop-centric "Hills and Horizons" is the perfect way to usher in a new year. As catchy as most of the tunes are, it's not just the music that makes this such a strong debut for DREAM Records. Rather, it's the pentad's ability to take the never-changing themes of the Gospel and communicate them in metaphors and images that are contemporary and non-cliché.
Case in point being the recently released single "Alibi." The doctrine of atonement may be the subject of countless songs, but Futures has a way of making this teaching sound palatable and cool to 21st Century ears, when they sing, "You're my alibi/Ttook the heat so that You and I will always get to be close/Free at last, you have saved my soul." Likewise, "Dandelions" takes the teaching of Jesus about childlike faith to a new level. Situated in the protagonist's recollection of her childhood, Futures gives us a vivid picture of what simple trusting faith looks like.
Meanwhile, the title track "Hills and Horizons" (easily the best song on the record) offers wisdom that belies the group's youthfulness. Expressing our frustrations of not being able to see the big picture of life, "Hills and Horizons" is a prayer for us to depend upon God. Worship leaders will do well to consider "Just So Good" -- a catchy worship romper about enjoying the presence of God--- in their song set. With elongated reverb beats and those Taylor Swift-esque melodic loops, "Good Things" is a thank-filled anthem about not taking anything for granted, including best friends and honest conversations.
If there's any criticism, it's that these 10 tracks tend to use a similar pop palate of squiggly synth riffs and electronic kick drums. One would hope that there's more variety and that they will take more risks in the execution of the songs. Maybe a more stripped-down organic ballad would have given the album a pause from the full rush of energy. Or a song or two that utilizes more wooden instruments may have given the album another level of intimacy. Other than this quibble, this is a good album: fresh, exciting, youthful, and most importantly, it speaks to us.