Prime Cuts: Burn for You, Satisfy, Provider
Overall Grade: 4.5/5
Maybe it's because they are from the UK. Maybe it's because they can interweave folk sensibilities and a slight blotch of electronica into their Jason Mraz-esque pop. Maybe it's because they are quarantined from the assembly line of recycled cliches and guitar riffs. There's something very addictive about Rivers & Robots' new Integrity Music release "Discovery." This is an album that will find yourself returning to again and again. If you are tired of the stadium-shaking rock based type of worship music, Rivers & Robots is a breath of fresh air. Instead of pounding the beats into you, there's an easy going sway to these songs. Without being too languid that they sound soporific and yet not overbearing that they give you a headache, these songs are a balm to the hurting heart and a joy for the weary feet to tap along to.
Rivers & Robots is a worship band from Manchester, UK. Their name comes from the combination of acoustic (represented by "river") and electronic sounds (represented by "robots") that they have utilised in their music. The band comprises of Jonathan Ogden, Caleb Choo and Nathan Stirling. " Discovery" is the trio's fifth release and the follow-up to last year's instrumental release "Still Vol. 1."
Like a mellow ray of sunshine, the fat electronic notes of the keyboards and the warm strums of nylon strings of the guitar usher us into God's presence with album opener "Dreams." Kicking up the tempo is the sun-kissed "Call Your Name" which boasts a breezy melody that is highly contagious. The best song on the set is a co-write between Ogden and David Brymer, "Burn for You." Finding its seed thought in Jesus' parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25, "Burn for You" speaks about filling out our lamps and letting them burn as we await our master's return. The marriage of the song's Bible soaked lyrics and those gorgeous piano arpeggios are just a match made in heaven.
"Satisfy," the album's lead single, is addictive. The Beatles-esque tune augmented by a smooth neo-soul production makes this easily one of the most "satisfying" pop-centric worship songs of the year. Within the same sonic-orbit is "Provider," a sincere testimony to God's faithfulness. The strip down "Know You More" is also of note. With just vocals, snapping percusion and minimal backings, "Know You More" is stark, honest and engaging.
Yet, not all is perfect. The songs get a tad anonymous on some spots of the album. Maybe it's because the trio write the bulk of the record, some of the songs sound a shade too similar. "Overflow" and "My Refuge," for instance, sound like more like off-cuts that need more work to tighten up in their melodic structures. Nevertheless, this is a worship record with a difference. Rivers and Robots remind us that drowning our ears with heavy rock guitars and anthem-like choruses are not the only ways to worship. If you want worship music that is refreshing and color outside the lines, give this album a listen.