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Newsboys - Restart
Last modified: 21 Feb 2014

Newsboys - Restart
Buy 'Restart'
It seems as though since former DC Talk member Michael Tait took over as lead singer of Newsboys, the band have been going from strength to strength. First up there was the brilliant 'Born Again' (2010), and then they followed it up with the worship-focused 'God's Not Dead' (2011).

Now the band return with new album 'Restart'. A big club-anthem style beat launches opening song 'That's How You Change The World' setting the tone for this very much dance-pop sounding album. As you would expect with the Newsboys, the lyrics maintain the positive influence. "Cos it's the prayer in an empty room, little things we do when nobody's around... It's the smallest spark that can light the dark, that's how you change the world."

'Restart' has a very familiar synth sound and beat to it, exactly like today's secular radio dance tracks. This is clearly an album intended to blend in with the modern sound - its mass market appeal moves the band on from their more worship focused music of the past couple of albums - and delivers them firmly into the land of youth appeal. This title track has a really catchy beat, and just demands to be sung along to. "You, you, you hit the restart. You came along and You hit the restart."

Keeping the dance-pop vibe going, 'Love Like I Mean It' could easily fit in on MTV or X Factor. The song title is also the full extent of the song's chorus, and as lead singer Michael Tait says "That's a first for us as performers. We've never had a chorus with just five words."

The album's first single 'Live With Abandon' is the closest to a Sunday morning worship anthem that the album has to offer - and actually, I think it would work pretty well in a worship setting. "I want my life to count, every breath. I wanna live with abandon, Give You all that I am - Every part of my heart Jesus, I place in Your hands."

'Go Glow' has an electronica vibe to it, very Owl City sounding, with a big catchy chorus, and then the album takes a major diversion for 'That Home'. Gone are the synths and dance beats, and in comes the piano-ballad. This is Newsboys stripped to the bare bones - actually, it's just Tait singing and the piano softly playing. Flooded with emotion, it's a song looking at childhood, with a mother keeping her children safe. You almost expect the big string section to kick in after the second verse, but the band resist that urge and instead keep it simple - and that adds to the simplicity and emotion of the song.

Bringing back the bleeps and tweets, 'Disaster' returns to the synth-electronica sound, with some fabulously crafted lyrics that just fit the tempo perfectly. Next up is 'Fishers Of Men', which is one of those slightly cheesy Christian cliches, that worked well when Jesus was talking to disciples, but somehow doesn't quite sound right in the modern day. But this song is so good I can forgive the cliche. "7 billion people on a spinning ball and they all mean the world to You" sings Tait.

'One Word' has a slightly slower tempo but with a big chorus that focuses the mind on God. 'Enemy' is an intriguing mix of many different sounds, with everything from synths, drums, guitars and even a hint of that elusive string section, all blended to brilliant effect. The piano is wheeled back out for 'We Believe', but this time it is accompanied by some atmospheric synths and pounding drums giving a dramatic sound backed up by lyrics declaring the basis of the Christian faith. It's a stunning end to the album, which really leaves you feeling moved and inspired, with its host of singers joining in the wonderful chorus.

If you have a little spare cash, you may want to consider investing in the album's Deluxe Edition, which features an impressive five bonus tracks.

The guitars are out in prominence for dance track 'Overflow' and 'Man On Fire', which features the distinctive vocals of Kevin Max echoing the chorus. Then there is the heavy dance beat of 'God Is Movin' before we come to the BIG surprise. 'The Living Years' was a massive secular chart hit for Mike & The Mechanics in the 1980s, and this cover version of the classic pop ballad seems like an odd choice, but you know what, it really works! This has always been one of my favourite songs, and hearing Newsboys put their spin on it is superb. It's well worth buying the Deluxe version for that alone, but you also get the brilliant 'Stronger', which is a slow tempo worship anthem with a soaring chorus that is a delight to listen to.

I have to admit, this album took me a few more listens to really love than Newsboys albums normally do - but once I got there, I really did grow to love it. This is the new style of modern worship, taken outside of the four walls of the church, and served up on an accessible plate that a secular-influenced generation will enjoy.

Review by Dave Wood

Standout Tracks
Live With Abandon
Restart
That's How You Change The World
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