Monday, May 22, 2017

Music Review: Lifer by MercyMe

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Plenty of upbeat, fun songs with thoughtful lyrics
Cons: “Ghost;” could use more style variety.
The Bottom Line:
MercyMe rocks here
Giving fun songs, good lyrics
Needs variety

This Disc Just Might Turn Out to be a Lifer After All

My first run through of MercyMe’s new release, Lifer, didn’t really impress me.  But, to be fair, I wanted to listen to it several more times, and I even spread those out over a few weeks.  The more I did, the more it has grown on me.

My problem with this disc is that many of the songs sound the same.  On a first listen, especially, the songs are all upbeat rockers.  To be fair, this isn’t a new problem for MercyMe.  Their discs have often lacked variety even as their overall sound has traveled from adult contemporary and pop to the rock sound they have today.  There’s nothing wrong with their modern rock sound, although at times they play with the vocals a bit too much for my taste.  I just find variety helps.

However, as I have listened, I’ve found there is more subtle variety with a few mid-tempo tracks thrown in.  I still wish it didn’t sound quite so similar, and this is certainly a case where the songs work better individually than together, but it isn’t as bad as I first thought.

And the songs themselves?  There are some fun ones here.  The disc starts out with the title track, which talks about how our relationship with Jesus isn’t something we can turn on and off.  We are lifers.

Grace is a strong message on the disc, and one I always love.  I don’t care for the rap bridge on “Grace Got You,” but the rest of the song is fun.  I really enjoy “Best News Ever” which looks at a few false clichés about God and contrasts them with the truth of the Bible.

And for pure fun, it’s hard to pass up “We Win,” which will have you shouting the refrain along with the band.  Then there’s “Happy Dance.”  While a bit silly, I find it fun, maybe because I am picturing the guys of MercyMe doing some rather silly dance moves as I listen to it.

Things are certainly more serious in “Even If.”  This is more of a mid tempo track as the band sings about their faith that God can remove any pain from our lives and yet they promise to keep following Him even if He doesn’t.  It’s a pretty powerful song.

Ironically given my opening comments, I find the slowest track on the disc to be my least favorite.  “Ghost” stands out from the rest the most musically since it is a slow ballad.  On this track they try to celebrate the influence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer and contrast it to the ghosts of ghost stories.  For me, it doesn’t work, and it almost feels irreverent, which I am sure wasn’t their intent at all.

On the other hand, there’s “Hello Beautiful.”  This song celebrates our freedom over regrets and mistakes of the past.  The lyrics and melody and fun.  This was my favorite from the very first time through the disc, and that hasn’t changed at all.

More stylistic variety would certainly have helped out this disc, but on the whole I find I am enjoying Lifer.  Fans of MercyMe will be happy with their latest release, although it probably won’t win them any new fans.

CD Length: 34:58
1. Lifer
2. You Found Me
3. Grace Got You
4. Best News Ever
5. Even If
6. Hello Beautiful
7. We Win
8. Happy Dance
9. Heaven’s Here
10. Ghost

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