Prime Cuts: Pride of a Father, Song for His Presence, Freedom is Coming
Overall Grade: 4/5
Ever since its early years, Hillsong Church Australia has had a youth ministry called Powerhouse that meets every Friday evenings. During the time when Darlene Zschech was the worship pastor, she encouraged the youth ministry to write and record their own songs. This gave birth to Hillsong UNITED. More than a decade later, with the members of UNITED all approaching middle age, Hillsong Young & Free (Y&F) took over as the mega church's youth collective.
Not counting remix or re-imagined efforts, Y&F have had released four full-length albums. Though there were some meritorious moments on all preceding records, there is a major flaw that runs right through their work. Many of their songs flourished on EDM loops rather than well-developed melodies. But what was worse is that the lyrics were extremely lite on scriptural or theological content and heavy on lines borrowed from today's secular love songs.
When we come to the 6-song "Out Here on a Friday Where It Began" EP and if all you listen to is the first song "Phenomena (DA DA)" you will conclude that the team has not improve a slightest bit. "Phenomena (DA DA)" is an awful party rouser that thrives on buzzing loops with an entire chorus going "DA DA DA DA" all the way through. It's quite a mindless bop; the type of song that gives CCM such a bad name. However, once when you get pass the first track, the rest of the songs are (surprisingly) good.
Rather than riding on the tiresome EDM trend, the remaining tracks canvas a broader range of sound. Calling to mind Maverick Music's recent works, "Freedom is Coming" and "House of the Lord" find Y&F dabbling in a hybrid Gospel sound, which is refreshing. Best song on the album has to be "Pride of a Father," which is modern re-telling of the story of the prodigal son. Delving into the complexity of emotions the father must have been feeling to see his prodigal child returning, the song is a heart-mover.
Moving away from the "me-perspective" to a more congregational focus, "Song for His Presence" shows depth and maturity. It's a song that feels like it belongs to a Hillsong Worship album. "Never Fail," with its extremely annoying repetitive chorus, is the second weakest song on the set, trailing behind "Phenomena (DA DA)." In short, "Out Here on a Friday Where It Began" EP does have many wonderful moments, just don't let the first song distract you.