As a teenager, I remember thinking that the youth group worship band was pretty good. The musicians were competent and the youth pastor had even written original songs that we sang frequently. However, as good as they were, I never thought they would ink a national record deal. That was then; today is a different story. Church worship bands that carry enough flair and style can catch the eye of a national label and share their music to a broader audience. Entering this arena is Switch, the youth group band for Life.Church based out of Edmond, OK. The energetic pop group is making their brand known with Symphony, a six song EP mixing worship with encouragement.
"Lifeline" gets the party started with a catchy riff on an acoustic guitar. In an age of synthesizers, this was a welcome surprise and nicely emphasizes the message of God's faithfulness in hard times. The rest of the EP falls more in line with modern pop sounds, giving programming center stage. What helps Switch deviate from other industry counterparts is their focus on soulful vocals layered on thick during choruses, such as on "Close." The title track adds some spice to the formula with a rap section during the bridge.
As noted, the message behind these songs is a blend of encouragement and worship. There's nothing particularly unique about how Switch handles this theme in their lyrics, but there are flashes of brilliance, such as the aforementioned rap on "Symphony," which throws so many musical metaphors at the listener it demands repeat listens to catch them all. The weaker lyrics are kept afloat by the stronger melodies and arrangements, but even these tend to blur together. Symphony struggles in the same area as Hawk Nelson's release from last year: too many of the songs sound the same without much to distinguish them from each other. The big difference here is that Switch's EP sounds less cliché and has more overall variety.
Though it's fascinating to see the rise of church bands in the modern Christian music industry, it also makes criticism harder. Given that Switch is the house band for a church's youth group changes one's perspective on the overall end product. It has its weaknesses, but maybe those aren't worth worrying about considering the target demographic. The music and themes here are definitely worthy of play in the background at any youth gathering. Still, even before realizing this was a youth band, I considered Switch's offering to be comparable to other major releases in the past year. Symphony is a fun pop EP that blends soulful vocals, encouraging lyrics, and upbeat music in a catchy sonic orchestra. Pop fans looking for something fresh should look no further than this debut EP from Switch.- Review date: 2/6/19, written by John Underdown of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: DREAM Records
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