ALBUM: Family Force 5 – Time Stands Still ★★★☆☆

timestandsstillArtist: Family Force 5

Album: Time Stands Still

Release Date: August 5th 2014

Label: Word

Place the word ‘Christian’ in front of the word ‘rock’ and you can already hear the audible groans of generations of rockers world wide. However this is not the case for five piece Family Force 5. With their party attitude and love for funky shirts, this five piece from Atlanta have completely turned the sweeping generalization of Christian rock music upside down.

Four albums, nine EPs and two remix albums. Impressed? So are we. Forming in 1993 the boys have filled their spare time creating film soundtracks for Alice In Wonderland (the one with Johnny Depp) and Battlefield (the one with Rihanna trying to act) as well as contributing a cover of La Roux‘s Bulletproof to Pop Goes Punk 3

Now with their release of their first album in three years, Time Stands Still, and the first without the vocals of Soul Glow Activatur since his departure in 2013, we’re not sure what to expect from the crunk-rock mainstays.

The opening track Sweep The Leg rips the album wide open as FF5 validate why the word ‘force’ is in their name. With its energetic beats and aggressive chorus, it’s definitely a crowd pleaser from beginning to end.

Hot on its heels is BZRK, including staccato rhythms, bouncy lyrics and the albums first feature appearance from popular Christian hip hop artist KB. It’s irritating attempt at dubstep/electro/noise is painful on the ears, sounding too much like a poor man’s version of Eminem’s Berzerk, and that was pretty poor.

Never mind though, three is the magic number as the third track Show Love  saves the album from being a back shelf seller. With its morally positive message, soft melodies, it comes as a relief. And a shock. Are we still listening to the same album? The heavy contrast from the instrumental qualities of this track varying so much for the previous two  to the next is intriguing to see where the band take the album.

And they don’t take it very far. The title track Time Stands Still is a heartfelt little number. It has repetitive rhythms, it has pulsating beats and it has potential. Until the drop failed to drop and was just left.. sort of …floating around in mid air a little bit lost.

Now for the second feature appearance, and this time from the petite Melodie Wagner, Walk On Water could quite easily be mistaken for a late 80’s track your parents could be caught dancing to in a smoke filled club wearing clothes that even the moths don’t wanna eat. And we love it. Melodie’s angelic vocals contrast beautifully to Crouton‘s (Jacob Olds) as they playfully dance across the lyrics. And credit where credit’s due, the first obvious religious reference doesn’t pop up until six tracks in.

The animalistic Raised By Wolves oozes power, attitude and charisma, and is easily our fave. FF5 justify why the word ‘force’ is in their title as they mercilessly slay this tracks with a heavy focus on guitar, whilst still carrying that electronic sound.

Yet ten tracks in and we can breathe a sigh of relief as we are almost grateful for the break of being thrown around the record, with the gentle Let It Be Love. The lush keys of the piano and vocal melodies act as a well deserved break from the insistent sound of ‘crunk’.

The final track to this lengthy album sums up the record flawlessly. The evenly balanced combo of electronic synths and guitar combined with their positive lyrical subject matter with a slight 80s twist provides the perfect ending track before FF5 treat us to three remix’s of previous tracks.

And like with any album, this one also includes a few of those toss away tracks. Like that guy at the party that’s always lurking in the background, these tracks blend in with the multi coloured wallpaper and wouldn’t be missed if they weren’t to make an appearance.

However, even those tracks still sound impeccable thanks to the extremely high quality of the production. Having to accommodate both electronic synthesizers and heavy rock is a hard task for even the most experienced of producers, yet FF5 have pulled it off with flawless style. Well done boys.

As a whole, the album provides a healthy balance of party anthems and sentimental songs whilst their positive message resonates throughout. The severe contrast between both sounds however, could be made with a much smoother transition as the listener is brutally thrown from one end of the spectrum to the next, it’s difficult to regain our balance.

A work of art? Yes. A fully fledged album? Not so much. But these boys certainly know how to throw a damn good party.