for KING & COUNTRY made waves in the CCM scene when they first released "Busted Heart" off of their debut album, Crave. It was an unexpected and immediate success for the brothers. Perhaps people just latched onto to their sincerity; perhaps their sister, Rebecca St. James, gained them some early favor. No matter what it was, fK&C quickly stole our hearts with their music and began to amaze with their live performances. After a really solid follow-up in Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong., expectation are higher than ever for the Smallbones' third album, Burn the Ships.
"Introit" (a psalm sung or said while the priest approaches the altar for the Eucharist) needlessly opens the album. Intro tracks are often really good and meaningful, but unfortunately "Introit" doesn't really lead into the first song and there is no real connection to make it memorable. "joy.," the album's lead single, starts the album off in a fashion that you'd expect from fK&C. The track has big sound and production with the pounding drums sound the guys are known for having in their music. The song even features a refrain from the classic song, "Joy in My Heart" -- sung at many Sunday school classes and VBS events over the years. "God Only Knows," a song about depression and suicide, follows next. The Smallbones, especially in the video, show the struggles, but offer hope in God's love. It's nice to see a Christian band tackle such a serious issue in this manner -- everything isn't always sunshine and rainbows in the world and in our lives. "Amen" changes things up quite a bit and the boys bring a Latin flair and energy into the mix. The title track is a reference to Cortés in 1519 as he began his conquest of Veracruz. When they arrived, Cortés ordered his men to burn the ships; it was a sign that they would complete their conquest and not look back or retreat. Luke and Joel use this same idea to describe our lives as Christians: Once we accept Christ, we shouldn't be looking back to the past or retreating. While it's not really the most interesting song musically, the concept and lyrics of the song are fantastic. "Fight On, Fighter" continues an impressive streak that is slower and calm in the verses, but builds into a much bigger song in the chorus.
As impressive as the first half of the album is, the second half feels a little more disjointed and not as cohesive. "Need You More" just sort of meanders along in a very minimalistic manner. It's not necessarily a bad song, but it's certainly the least interesting on the album. "Control" follows and suffers from some of the same issues on the musical side. "Never Give Up" is a fun listen musically and the guys regain a little of the spark, but this one suffers lyrically. The songs falls into a common pop music trend with just three words repeated for the entire chorus -- every time. It seems that a different approach could've made a more impactful song, but as it is, many will likely love the singability. "Hold Her" winds the album down with a romantic song about missing your loved one. The song is a prayer for God to look over his wife while he's away and is something that many people can relate to in their own lives. "Pioneers" closes the album out by adding boys' wives (Moriah and Courtney) in another romantic love song. While the ladies add a really nice touch vocally, the song itself falls a bit flat -- much like "Need You More" and "Control" earlier.
At the onset, it seemed that Burn the Ships could have been for King & Country's best album to date. The entire first half of the album, outside of "Introit," is really good and enjoyable. However, the album breaks down a little in the back half. While no song present it outright bad, the Smallbones have set a very high standard for themselves over the past couple of albums. A very enterprising and compelling first two albums lead to extremely high expectations when it comes to album number three. Burn the Ships isn't necessarily "safe," but it isn't as aspiring as their earlier work. However, the album has some very bright moments and some more poignant ones as well. I'd definitely recommend giving it a listen, but I'd also encourage you to quell your expectations just a touch. Regardless on my thoughts on Burn the Ships, I'll still be standing by and waiting excitedly when album four drops.- Review date: 10/5/18, written by Michael Weaver of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Curb / Word Records
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