Keeping track of Hillsong Church's branches of music can be a nightmare.
"Is this song by Hillsong United or Hillsong Worship?"
"Well, it's a song that was released on a Hillsong United album, but this is Hillsong Worship's version of it."
Luckily, it isn't too difficult to pick out a Hillsong Young & Free song out of the bunch. The musical youth ministry has been releasing music since 2013, and have become a staple in youth and contemporary worship services across the globe. With the recent release of "Youth Revival (Live)" can Young & Free make the same splash that Hillsong United made with their albums "Zion" and "Empires"?
The first thing that must be addressed is the fact that "Youth Revival (Live)" is indeed a live album. The album only has one studio/radio track: "Where You Are." That doesn't mean the rest of the album isn't good. It succeeds sonically, and doesn't lose much of the desired punch. With that being said, the impeccable quality of "Where You Are" makes you wonder how great a full studio version of the album could be.
The opening track is a live version of "Where You Are," and it works pretty well. It offers enough familiarity for those who have heard the radio single version released in 2015. "Where You Are" is a pretty straightforward, but well executed dance track with a bouncy groove and infectious melody. The addition of the live drums gives the track more of a funky feel, and could ultimately make the song more fun.
Following "Where You Are" are a few more synth heavy tracks, but "Youth Revival (Live)" quickly proves that it is much more dynamic. The tracks "Face to Face" and "Never Alone" are minimalistic and vulnerable pop songs that is sure to please fans of bands like Barcelona. Between those two, is a straight forward piano ballad, "To My Knees" that has the potential to be the song that every worship band plays during alter calls.
The songs "When the Fight Calls" and "Falling Into You" are the absolute standouts in this album. Both are very different, with "When the Fight Calls" being a positive power pop anthem, and "Falling Into You" being very playful and funky. "Falling Into You" is actually not too dissimilar, in terms of feel, from "Still Into You" by Paramore.
The song closes with an array of songs that summarize the dynamics of the album, effectively being a third act.
Lyrically, the album doesn't stray far from your standard contemporary worship tropes, which isn't an entirely bad thing. If anything "Youth Revival (Live)" will continue to push forward the discussion of what church's consider "worship-appropriate music."
Thankfully, Hillsong Young & Free's latest release offers an album that will appeal to those who are into electronic pop, without feeling like a derivative cash-in on a genre growing in popularity. The album doesn't get stale, making a full listen pretty rewarding, while also begging you to hit repeat on a handful of the songs. It's chomping at the bit to be blared with the windows down and wind in your hair. It could also be a great album to put in your exercise playlist. It's going to be a good spring and summer for Hillsong Young & Free.