Love Prevails Over Abandon's Struggles
- Ed Cardinal Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2014 11 Nov
Title: Love Prevails
Label: 2Ten Records
Texas rock act Abandon charted some hits ("Hero," "Feel It in Your Heart") on ForeFront Records a few years ago, but the quintet dwindled to a duo and took its biggest hit when singer Josh Engler left to replace Kevin Max as the third front man for Audio Adrenaline. Surprisingly, the band has survived with sibling Justin Engler moving from guitars to vocals and guitarist Steven Vela inviting his brother Ben to play drums. And the youth-friendly faith messages and Killers/Maroon5 influences haven't wavered from the changes preceding this fan-funded third album. Forgive the wordplay, but Abandon prevails on Love Prevails.
It's obvious the recast trio loves simple gospel lyrical themes and a throwback '80s synth-pop vibe. "Sound of Love" is a perfect three-minute sing-along about believers' role as the light of the world, urging us totake this love like rock and roll, let it move our feet, heart and soul. "Messenger" has a distinct keyboard undercurrent that could have been lifted from Norway's a-ha in 1985; Abandon dresses a lot like those guys did back then on the Love Prevails cover. Even more catchy, "Hope Is Alive" updates its dancefloor groove with "Moves Like Jagger" guitars and punchier production on Engler's voice, which naturally favors his brother's tone.
There's a break from the breeziness in first single "It Was Love," a mid-tempo ballad softened by acoustic piano but possessing a weighty turn of phrase about Christ's crucifixion:It wasn't nails that held You to the cross / It was love. "Warrior" goes back to the deep electronic throbbing but with darker corners, a heavily programmed song about the spiritual battles between faith and fear. "While We're Living" is brighter but still intense, driving home the prevailing point: Let us take our love to the least of us, young and old all around the world.
While plenty is said about struggles on earth, Love Prevails is always keenly aware of eternity. Atmospheric ballad "Forever" could be considered a worship cut and honors a God that knows your pain and has the scars to prove it. Closing number "Heaven" returns to the winning bouncy Europop template to celebrate God's eternal promises that are already underway: Heaven starts here with you and I.
Despite the band's own struggles, we can be glad Abandon didn't abandon its commendable brand of youth rock music and ministry.