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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Regeneration

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Oct
  • COMMENTS
Regeneration
Sounds like … Superchic[k]'s girl rock, reminiscent of No Doubt, gets revitalized with some hardcore rock hooks reminiscent of Pillar and Linkin ParkAt a glance … Regeneration isn't bad, but its lack of imagination makes it suitable for either the most casual or insatiable of Superchic[k]'s fans

Remix albums are typically the work of producers and studio wizards, refitting the music to a dance bit with lots of bells and whistles. Often used to maintain interest and generate sales, the remix album rarely features any direct involvement from the artist. But recently, there has been a tendency for artists to use remix albums to reinvent themselves or reinterpret their songs. Such is true of Regeneration, the latest release from Superchic[k].

The ever-evolving Superchic[k] currently consists of Max Hsu (songwriter, keyboards, DJ, producer), Tricia Brock (lead vocals), her sister Melissa Brock (harmony vocals, guitar), Matt Daly (bass, vocals), and Dave Ghazarian (guitars). They've had an impressive impact on popular culture in their first two years, appearing in more soundtracks and advertisements—including a new campaign with JCPenney—than any other Christian artist in recent history. Regeneration includes "Me Against the World," featured prominently in the film Legally Blonde 2. Though seen as an empowering sequel to Superchic[k]'s "One Girl Revolution," it has just as much to say about changing the world through faith.

Still, band creator Hsu has often said the first two albums were somewhat rushed, with some songs not recorded to the band's satisfaction. With Regeneration, Superchic[k] updates their hits to conform to their increasingly confident sound, which apparently now incorporates some hardcore rock. Even the album cover reflects this—a hybrid of their 2002 album, Last One Picked, and something that Pillar or Living Sacrifice might use.

Their 2001 debut, Karaoke Superstar, featured two mixes of "One Girl Revolution": the original modern pop/rock single and a heavier, gutsier "Mob-Action Mix." Regeneration's new "Battle Mix" is even louder and funkier, and as Hsu puts it, they've "given it some teeth." It's something you'd expect in the soundtrack to the new Charlie's Angels movies, emulating the hard rock of Skillet and Pillar. "Barlow Girls" has a new guitar riff, a kids' chorus, and a cameo by rocking hip-hopster KJ-52 in the somewhat mellowed "Space Monkey Lab Mix." This version drops the generic Go-Go's girl rock in favor of a more playful and, well, girly sound that nicely fits the song's message of feminine purity and goodness. There's also an improved remake of "Get Up" that makes it more hook-filled and fun than the lower budgeted production of the original—it now rivals some of their best work.

From Last One Picked, there's "I Belong to You," an atypically understated acoustic worship ballad that's been featured on MTV's "Real World." The new "Midnight Mix" adds drums and bass, transforming it into a mid-tempo pop/rock ballad that serves as Regeneration's first single. Another fan favorite is the "Song 4 Tricia" segue, "Princes and Frogs," sung by the guys of Superchic[k]. The "Underdog Mix" fleshes it out into a full-produced song, conforming it to the band's style and similar in spirit to Relient K.

But not all of the remakes are necessarily better. "So Bright (Stand Up)" epitomized the band's sound: melodic guitar rock stuffed with hooks and liberally seasoned with turntable effects. Here it's been renamed "Stand Up (Mob Action Mix)" because it's such a radical departure from the original. Beginning with a rap verse by Daly, the overall sound is much darker and more reminiscent of a hardcore rock band. Will fans dig this messy face-lift? Or what of the new "Red Pill Mix" of "Hero," one of the band's most powerfully affecting songs? The band prefers this new heavy rock version, resembling Nickelback and Linkin Park, colored by cello and drum machine for dramatic effect. While it definitely sounds more like a radio single, there was a quiet intensity to the original that, when combined with the sugary melody, perfectly fit the song's theme of depression and alienation lurking below the surface.

Regeneration is only nine tracks long and little more than 30 minutes, but it's also appropriately priced at $10 or less. Still, there's something a little awkward about a short disc that suggests its two predecessors were flawed. If a listener was disappointed with the mixes the first go around, would he even bother with this disc? And if you were satisfied with the songs the first time, will you want to hear them tinkered with? Such is the dilemma of any remix album, but Regeneration doesn't really remix, rethink, or reimagine so much as revitalize the songs for radio with typical hardcore rock hooks. It's best suited for two kinds of listeners: casual fans looking for a simple summary and insatiable fans who can't get enough of Superchic[k].


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