- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2002 1 Oct
Forget the Plus One you knew. Sure, they sold well over a million total copies of their albums in just three years; their debut, 2000's
They could have just as easily called this disc
Plus One's publicity people have compared the new sound to U2 and Coldplay. Skeptical? So was I initially, but after repeated listens, I'm becoming a believer. Though generically similar to Coldplay at times, it's probably more accurate to liken the new sound to Delirious, By the Tree, and especially the Newsboys (for obvious reasons). The modern pop/rock of the lead track, "Outlaw," draws comparisons to Furler's well-known band. Inspired by pressure to change the "Plus One" name, the song is about embracing our past, including mistakes that have helped shape our lives: "You don't have to change your name/You can outrun your chasing blame." It's followed by the driving rock of "Tonight," about taking a leap of faith and putting the future in God's hands: "Shine your light, put your heart in mine/Cut the cord from this empty life." The closer "Like a Kite" is a "coming back to God" song that resembles innumerable Newsboys anthems.
Listeners will be most surprised by the rocking intensity of the chorus of "Poor Man," a song about focusing on heaven's eternal riches instead of earthly treasures. Another highlight is the infectious "Sea of Angels," clearly recalling Coldplay's "Clocks" in its rhythmic triple pulse drive. It offers a theme of abandoning fear in light of God's sovereignty, similarly expressed in the awkwardly titled but beautifully rendered ballad, "Quest of Many Trails." The catchy first single "Be Love" simply reminds us of God's greatest commandment, and "Circle" is an arty ballad of faith and trust that incorporates an erratic array of keyboard sounds.
Despite the successes here, Plus One still needs to further develop their new pop/rock sound. Cole's vocals work well on some tracks and lack rock edge on others. At times, it's like listening to Justin Timberlake trying to sing rock—i.e., just a little too pinched and pretty. Walters' keyboard skills are fine, but the piano sound often seems second-rate. Most impressive are Combs' guitar skills—according to the credits, it's all him. Like their playing, the trio's songwriting is better than you would expect, but sometimes it sounds like they're trying to emulate instead of originate—the aforementioned "Sea of Angels," for example. Maybe the biggest fumble on