Album Review: Newsboys ‘Restart’

Newsboys ‘Restart’

Do you know what happens when you add water to your favourite Pop drink?
You get a half strength watered down version of your favourite drink, less ‘pop’ and less flavour.

Newboys is known as a band that crossed boundaries, that had a good blend of electronic and rock, lyrics that were clever and thought provoking. I mean who can forget the cleverness of lyrics like :

Isabelle is a belly dancer with a kleptomaniac’s restraint
Tried stealing Helena’s hand basket, made a fast getaway, but McQueen she ain’t
At the courtroom Joshua judges her ruthlessly on account of Ruth walking out on him
In the Big House Isabelle is a-telling all to the chaplain who’s become her friend

-Newsboys “take me to your leader”

This album ‘Restart’ is none of the above traits from the Newsboys… it’s not clever, the lyrics are predictable and the sound is like every other pop sound on the radio. Maybe the album should be called ‘Rehash’.

I have to say I almost telegraphed it when I saw the cover picture of the Newsboys ‘Restart’ I though “Isn’t this a version B cover of the ‘Born again’ cover?”
The world gave a collective sigh of relief when the Newsboys brought out the album ‘Born Again’ in 2010 with new lead singer Michael Tait (DC Talk and Tait) it was an album that many believed would be the footprint of where the band would be heading creatively, it seemed like the creative hit that the band needed.
So we have ‘Restart’ – this album is not all bad, it is simplistic and has great tunes. This would actually make a great kids album…. in fact when I played ‘Live with abandon’ to my wife she made the comment “Is this a kids album”
When I said to her “Ummmm, No I don’t think so”
She replied “Oh??? It really does sound like a kids album”

Maybe we’re just being to spoilt here in the Southern hemisphere, with groups like Planetshakers, Hillsong, Hillsong United and Parachute Band?
Now I understand the need for music diversity on the music landscape and if we all copied the aforementioned bands we would be bored, but I can’t understand why a band that can release great albums like ‘Going Public’ ‘Take Me To Your Leader’ and ‘Born Again’ could not see and album like this as anything but sub par???

I might sound cynical but I wonder if the success of Toby Mac’s electronic infused ‘Eye on It’ album tipped the hat in the direction of a more electronic infused Newsboys album…. and it’s understandable, it’s not uncommon to hear a swag of ‘same sounding’ bands after the release of a big band with a new sound… remember how many groups followed the electronic sound of The Black Eyed Peas ‘The E.N.D.’ album? It seemed like EVERYONE was jumping on the 8 bit band wagon.

The Newsboys are great ambassadors for hard working Christian bands, and it’s easy to rate their albums high based on what they have done before and the way their songs may have impacted you in the past…. however the music industry doesn’t get softer with age, and bands like the Newsboys need to be aware (as I’m sure they are) that they are that they are paving the way once again for a new range of young and upcoming bands that are in the middle of a world full of mediocre music and lyrics and we (as a collective group) be making sure that the music that come out of the walls of the church are the MOST creative and the MOST influential. However Newsboys have released a good album, that is safe and easy and nothing new and exciting an a world that is needing new and exciting…. and what makes it even more disappointing is they did it by giving up the sound that they fought so hard to develop.