Following up such a massive debut album isn’t easy. With 2013’s “We Are Young And Free”, Hillsong Young & Free’s EDM influenced pop sound has made a profound impact on the church music scene worldwide, and their follow up “Youth Revival” strikes many of the chords of conversation and controversy that its predecessor does. Its strengths aren’t in its songwriting, though it’s refined, nor are its strengths in its lyrical depth, which were arguably stronger in their debut.
The strengths of this record are rooted in the way “Youth Revival” captures the current cultural climate so well. Latching onto familiar musical trends, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between lead single “Where You Are” and the latest Justin Bieber, though the subversive and brilliant strength of the record is precisely this. The use of big synths, finger snaps and pan-pipe vocals holds a mirror to the popular and reflects back a Christian worldview.
“Youth Revival” is a laser focussed record that understands and delivers to its teenage target audience. Simple, catchy melodies are paired with introspective lyrics that speak to a level of faith that isn’t complex but one of searching, affirmation, longing and surrender. Each song is exciting and fresh, and fit comfortably into the pop genre.
While “Youth Revival” is an easy listen, and could be written off as shallow and meaningless, it’s important to remember the purpose and target of this type of music. This record is yet another landmark in Hillsong’s mandate to capture, shift and change popular culture for the Kingdom.