Family Force 5 is one of those bands where you never really know what to expect. They've released rock albums. They've released pop albums. They've even released a Christmas album. But one thing that's stayed constant throughout their career, is the ever present desire to not change for anyone. They've been maligned by the Christian industry for not being Christian enough. They've been rejected by the mainstream public for having too much faith. But the more you listen to them, the more you realize they're not trying to please anyone. They have a story to tell, and they're going to do it in the way they see fit. So what do you get when you combine a "new" lead singer with a debut on a record label known more for its traditional worship than its experimentation? You get Time Stands Still.
Honestly, it's an album that has to be heard to be understood. If you've followed the band's career, you'll recognize a lot of influences from their earlier work. Songs like "Jet Pack Kicks" and "Raised by Wolves" are very reminiscent of their major label debut, Business Up Front, Party in the Back. They're raw. They're brash. And most of all, they're the type of fun that just keeps getting better with each listen. There's even a song on the album inspired by the 1984 cult film, The Karate Kid. Most bands would throw in a track like that just for fun, but Family Force 5 isn't just any band; the track, "Sweep the Leg," is the album's opener. It's the perfect choice to start things off, and it sets the tone in the best way. From one listener to another, don't play Time Stands Still in a place you'd be embarrassed to be seen dancing. You've been warned.
But the greatest strength of Family Force 5 over the years has been their ability to surprise you, even when you expect it. That sounds funny, but it's true. Despite the fact that Time Stands Still is a return to form in many ways, it's also probably more melodic than anything the band has ever released. "Let It Be Love," Time Stands Still's lead single, is a perfect example of this. Not only is it lyrically one of the strongest tracks of the band's career, but it provides a sharp contrast to the harder sound that they're known for. The most surprising track on the album though, is "Walk on Water," which features Melodie Wagner of Hillsong Young & Free. Yes, Family Force 5 and Hillsong. It takes a while to get used to, but it works surprisingly well. When the band signed to a more traditional Christian record label, it was to be expected that their lyrical content would shift somewhat, but this collaboration came out of nowhere. Even though the pairing seems awkward at first, it provides a level of accessibility that perhaps wasn't there before.
While the band's last album, III, was criticized for its inconsistency, that's not the case here. Each and every song, while unique in its own way, delivers the signature energy and sound that the band is known for. To the fans who left Family Force 5 behind, give Time Stands Still a shot. You might just find yourself listening to the album of the year.- Preview Review date: 7/3/14, Review date: 7/29/14, written by John "Flip" Choquette of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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