Prime Cuts: Where You Are, Face to Face, To My Knees
Hillsong Church is a pioneer par excellence. Not only were they the ones that make the music of congregational worship cool again, they have had a vision to provide the right vocabulary of worship for the various ages. Hillsong Worship, led formerly by Darlene Zschech, services the church in general with her worship. Then we have Hillsong UNITED which targets a slightly younger demographic. Now, under the leadership of Laura Toggs, Hillsong Y&F seeks to aid teenagers and young adults in their praises.
Hillsong Y&F may share the same moniker as Hillsong Worship and they may both have emerged out of the same Australian megachurch, but musically the collation between the two teams are at best superficial. First, Hillsong Y&F, like their mother team, is a self-contained group where they write and sing their own material. Second, just like the bulk of Hillsong Worship's oeuvre, "Youth Revival" is a live recording. But that's about where the similarities end.
While Hillsong Worship's music leans towards a more rock-pop template, Y&F's "Youth Revival" is encased in an EDM shell brimming with music popular among kids circa the early 2010s. "Where You Are," the album's lead single and opening cut, sets the template for what is to come. With pulsating beats, blaring synths and soaring choruses, "Where You Are" is a sizzling fresh love song to Jesus quipped with beats and lyrics that will get the younger demographic bopping around in worship. While the lyrics of their parent's team' songs are more liturgically funnelled, many of the tracks on "Youth Revival" are more conversationally colloquial. "Real Love," for instance, is stripped of all religious jargon and tropes. Rather, what we have is a stark challenge to search for a deeper love in language that the average non-church goer will understand.
This is not to say that the entire record is a fest of electronic barn burners. "Face to Face" is where the atmospherics set in. Quipped with an ethereal feel not dissimilar to UNITED'S "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)," "Face to Face" is a sobering ballad about what it really means to have Jesus right in front of us. Then the team indulges us in a 7.53 minute worship excursion with "To My Knees." Nevertheless, what tapers the album a little is that some of the songs seek to be so relevant that they sound more or less like secular love songs devoid of much Biblical and theological meat. "Falling into You," for instance, calls to mind Celine Dion's song of the same titular. In the hands of a secular artist, "Falling into You" could even be a pop hit.
"Youth Revival" certainly lives up to its title. This record zests with life, relevance, and immediacy. However, if they would have up the Biblical/theological quota in their lyrics, revival would have had more transformative depth and dimension.