- Step Up To The Microphone
by Paul M. Carhart
Originally published in The Lighthouse Electronic
The Newsboys are back...well at least some of them.
new project, Step Up To The Microphone, marks the departure
of long time front man, John James and signals a change in direction
for the band that the critics love to hate.
up to the microphone (pun intended) from behind the drum kit to
fill James' shoes, or at least his silver pajamas, is Peter Furler
who has had a very heavy hand in the creative aspects of the group
from the beginning (long time band percussionist, Duncan Phillips
takes over Furler's drumming duties). In fact, perhaps due to the
obvious Aussie accents, Furler doesn't sound much different than
James did. Casual listeners probably wouldn't even know that this
project sports a different singer than the last if it wasn't being
similarities aside, Step Up is definitely a new direction
for the Newsboys. Gone is any hint of their pseudo-punk roots and
for every heavy handed guitar lick (of which there are many), there
is a thin, drum-machine-like beat going on in the background. The
group is also much more vocally oriented than it has been in the
past, interweaving harmonies throughout the album. The result is
some sort of modern techno-rock/pop-dance concoction. To further
confuse things, there are orchestral arrangements and classical
guitar parts interspersed into the music, proving to the critics
that love to hate them that they are much better musicians this
time out than they have ever been.
does this all mean? It means that the listener is in for a refreshing
rollercoaster ride of ten tracks that sound like no others. Produced
this time out entirely by Furler (Steve Taylor co-produced
their last three projects with Furler), Step Up delivers
unique, surprisingly melodious rock/pop with a few quirks that can
only come from those silly guys who brought you the "Shine" video.
album's first single, "Entertaining Angels," is the most similar-to-old-Newsboys
track you will find on Step Up. Other highlights include
the furiously moving "Hallelujah," the rockin' and nonsensically
titled, "WooHoo," the very danceable title track and the smooth
guitar laden "The Tide." Lyrically, much of their trademark puns,
turns of phrase and humor are still intact, however there are serious
portions of the album as well and it is obvious that the Newsboys
are not pulling their punches, especially in the title track.
won't find the good old familiar Newsboys on this project. But,
if you are opened to originality and new directions, Step Up
To The Microphone is worth steppin' out to the music store for.
very well may not be anything else like it on this earth.