Newsboys is one of those supergroups that have always been associated with the youth group crowd. What few tend to realize as they grow out of that age group, however, is that the Newsboys have often made some fantastic music ("Lost The Plot," "Let It Go," "Lord (I Don't Know)," "Let It Rain," and "I Surrender All" are just a few that come to mind) that exceeds the boundaries of its original target audience. So this particular reviewer is thrilled that this pop/rock band has returned from their dual-worship album intermission to what they know best.
While billed as a new pop album from Newsboys, Go is not surprisingly a successful blend of anthems and worshipfully written pop tunes in the vein of such albums as Thrive and Step Up To the Microphone. And while some bands who attempt to branch out into new territory to survive trend changes tend to find their change to be a misstep, Newsboys have managed to craft a relevant and ultimately delectable collection of songs.
Evangelism is the overall theme of Go, from the hopelessly catchy opening anthem "Wherever We Go" and the call to ministry of the title track, to the aptly titled "The Mission," and the signature quirkiness of "Secret Kingdom." Worship is also central, with the powerful "In Wonder," Jon Egan cover "I Am Free," and the delightful ugly duckling of the record, "Your Love Is Better Than Life" (which includes Aussie-accented raps pondering life's great - and small - mysteries). Diversity keeps the record fresh and alive while it never feels like it's just the band going through the motions. Go is the kind of record we've come to expect from Newsboys and it proves they still have a few surprises up their sleeves after all these years.
Stylistically, Go is right in line with the Newsboys trademark sound. Electronic elements and synths support catchy rhythms and melodies to serve as the base for most of the album's tracks. "Wherever We Go" tries hard to be the next big hit from the band and succeeds in offering the sound that is required to earn such a hit. However, while "Shine" has the immortal chorus and "Breakfast" has that camp-bus-ride longevity, "Wherever We Go" may not have what it takes to transcend the years lyrically, as it focuses on the band's effect it has on the world around it. Although the quintet has been playing "I Am Free" live for well over a year, this is the first time a studio rendition of the song is being made available. And while the live radio version seemed overproduced at best, the studio version breathes life into the song, with Jeff Frankenstein accenting the melody with retro synths that surprisingly give it an added aesthetical pleasure. Most of the tracks are upbeat and at times fast-paced, while heart and warmth flows from such highlights as "The Letter" and the throwback feel of "Gonna Be Alright" to bring some added encouragement to listeners.
Go is a welcomed return for the Newsboys to what they've become known for since their humble beginnings almost two decades ago. Catchy, fun, worshipful, encouraging, and memorable, Go is liable to cause longtime fans to join me in saying, "Hallelujah, the Newsboys are back!"- Review date: 10/27/06, written by John DiBiase
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