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Sounds like … the band's usual fusion of modern worship and soaring Brit rock a la U2 and ColdplayAt a glance … World Service is a return to form for Delirious, very enjoyable and moving in sound and lyric, though it's not particularly innovativeTrack ListingGrace Like a RiverRain DownGod in HeavenMajesty (Here I Am)Inside OutsideFreeEveryone KnowsWith YouMountains HighI Was BlindFeel It Comin' OnEvery Little Thing
With six studio albums over the last ten years, Delirious has proven very adept at stretching themselves creatively while also giving the fans exactly what they want—just not necessarily all at once. Consider the impact they made on modern worship with the now relatively subdued rock of Cutting Edge. Since then, Delirious has alternated between the worshipful (King of Fools, Glo) and the experimental (Mezzamorphis, Audio Lessonover). While the albums have been well received, there's always a vocal segment of the band's fanbase that complains about the departure from worship, despite the clear Christian themes on all the albums. In other words, fans seem to want Delirious to sound like Sonicflood whenever they try to be a little more like Radiohead.
It was a good album, but Audio Lessonover (or Touch as it's known in the States) ended up as the band's most disappointing work to date (critically and financially), so it's no surprise that we're back to more of a familiar worship sound with World Service. The album is a hybrid of Cutting Edge and Glo, not as groundbreaking as the former but less bombastic than the latter. You can expect some of these to make their way into modern worship repertoires everywhere, the most likely candidate being the beautiful ballad "Majesty (Here I Am)." There's an anthemic quality similar to "Sanctify" in "Grace Like a River" in its amazement over God's unconditional love: "Mystery of mysteries, that you could love someone like me/In your hands eternity, and yet you have the time for me." Lead singer Martin Smith describes the rock praise of "God in Heaven" as a modern day remake of the hymn "To God Be the Glory."
Much of World Service treads familiar territory, though in a good way. "Rain Down," for example, offers catchy driving rock in the spirit of Glo's "God You Are My God" or "God's Romance," but it's still got radio hit written all over it-and it's especially powerful when Smith belts out, "Do not shut, do not shut, do not shut the heavens/But open up, open up, open up our hearts." At the same time, the talented guitar rock band tries a few variations. Psalm 139-inspired "Inside Outside" is a different, more open sound for them that works quite well, though it's essentially exploring another side of U2's multi-faceted sound.
The new album primarily succeeds by presenting some of Delirious' most open and emotional material to date. They've always been good at expressing the Christian faith walk in new ways, and they do so again with "Feel It Comin' On," a rocker about brokenness and restoration: "Careful when you look, for my heart has leprosy/All I want is to see Jesus/Just one touch and I'll be free." The closing track, "Every Little Thing," was written in memory of John Thatcher Sr., the band's mentor and pastor—and for some members, father or father-in-law—who died in 2003. Featuring backing vocals from pop star and fellow believer Daniel Bedingfield, the song is a somber and moving response to the pain of life's tragedies: "When it's all falling down on you/You're crying out but you're breaking in two/When it's all crashing down on you/When there's nothing you can do/ There is someone who can carry you." Piano-driven "Mountains High" offers a similar lament over the death of a friend and the challenges of life, ultimately relying on God whose "ways are high, too high for us." It's appropriately followed by "I Was Blind," a tender testament to God's kindness.
As expected from Delirious, this is an excellent Brit rock album with plenty of worshipful undertones. The only thing lacking is innovation. While it is indeed a welcome return to form, it's also a bit vanilla, failing to joyously surprise in the way Glo and Mezzamorphis did. Nor does it offer anything quite as memorable as their Cutting Edge days. But the anthemic rock sound and strong musicianship are both still present, and those are enough for most fans when combined with the emotional and worshipful lyrics. World Service is not Delirious' best album, but it might well be their most accessible and radio friendly in the last five years.