Wonder of the World
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2008 9 Sep
- There Is Nothing
- Wonder of the World
- Holy One
- You Are Glory
- Lose It All
- The Only Thing That's Beautiful in Me
- Freedom Begins Here
- Never Far Away
In early 2007, Rush of Fools generated some of the loudest buzz I've heard in Christian music. Fans couldn't wait to hear more from the new band behind "Undo," a confessional ballad that became the most played Christian song of 2007. But before long, the buzz seemed to fade. The band still had some radio success with singles like "Peace Be Still" and "When Our Hearts Sing," but it's as if the fervor died down a little, especially when they failed to pick up Dove Awards for Song of the Year or New Artist of the Year, as many were expecting.
Maybe it had something to do with how manufactured the band sounded on their self-titled debut—in fact, they weren't even really a band on that album, but core members Kevin Huguley and Wes Willis backed by studio musicians. That's been rectified by a couple years of touring, and now, just 16 months after their first album, it sounds as if Rush of Fools is truly emerging on their short 35-minute sophomore effort, Wonder of the World.
In all honesty and fairness, Rush of Fools sounds considerably improved here—no longer an over-polished studio creation, but still cohesive and practiced. It also helps that the band has settled on one producer (the team of Jason Ingram and Rusty Varenkamp) rather than several, like last album. This is worshipful rock in the tradition of Sonicflood and Delirious, bearing that clear U2 influence used by so many. There's some beautiful ambience in the interplay between acoustic guitars, keyboards, and pounding drums, creating a dynamic that's not unlike Future of Forestry in "You Are Glory." It's quite likely that this album would have been embraced alongside Sonicflood's landmark debut 10 years ago.
There lies the problem, however. Rush of Fools has a decade of modern worship to contend with, and there's simply not enough here in the songwriting that makes them stand out. The album offers a lot of "There's no one quite like You," as "Lose It All" puts it, and such worshipful sentiments feel dry and hollow after a while. "The Only Thing That's Beautiful in Me" is similarly too familiar to sustain much interest: "Just like a mountain peak, You lift me up/Just like a desert stream, You fill my cup … And all I can say is thank you, Lord, thank you." Such songs are not incorrect in their praise, but there are clearly better praise songs. Nor are all the songs corporate in scope, such as "Freedom Begins Here," which is more an invitation to break free from sin and shame than an expression of worship.
This is a young band still finding its wings, and at least they're moving in the right direction. But now that Rush of Fools has improved their sound, I'd suggest they further develop their songwriting for the next album.