I love road trips, and I love music that goes with said road trips. Rend Collective’s newest record, As Family We Go, is a fine example of a fun album ready for the road.
17 months after the release of The Art of Celebration, the collective have returned for a brand new outing. This time around the band have taken on a more mainstream sound, one their previous album heavily hinted at. Unfortunately, The Art of Celebration was a hit and miss for me. The uptempo numbers were excellent, but where it suffered was in its slower tracks. This problem haunts this record as well, but thankfully to a lesser extent.
The album begins with three high energy songs, capitalizing on the success of “Burn Like a Star,” and, “Lighthouse.” There can come a problem when artists do this when they end up sounding a little too much like the songs they’re building on; however this problem is no where to be found here. These first three tracks, “Celebrate,” “Free As a Bird,” and, “You Will Never Run,” are pure gold. I can’t help but smile when they dance on my ears. Track four, “Every Giant Will Fall,” is also a top tier song, leaning back on the fun of the previous tracks, while reaching forward to their slower sound.
Like the ballads on the album before it, however, “One and Only,” is where As Family…. begins to lose some of its footing. It’s pleasant to listen to and direct in its worship, but when it’s over, that grin mentioned earlier isn’t as prominent as before. “Never Walk Alone,” and, “Just a Glimpse,” are also underwhelming in their execution, even despite the electronic elements hiding in the latter song.
But for those beginning to worry, the highlights far outweigh the disappointments. “Your Royal Blood,” a cover of (or in this case, a song inspired by) the hymn “Nothing But the Blood,” has become one of my favourite songs of this year. The Gospel inspired chorus, and that infectious groove easily make this a fond memory on the long trip this record was made for. “Coming Home,” and “The Artist,” end the album as strong as it began, bringing in the contagious joy radiating in the album’s first three tracks.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by Rend Collective’s newest adventure. It’s a sure step up from The Art of Celebration, however not quite as good as Homemade Worship by Handmade People. But despite a few bumps and potholes along the way, As Family We Go is a strong record that is sure to create some great times on this journey called life.