by Sam Robinson
Much-loved Irish outfit Rend Collective released a new album this week, their fourth, fittingly on St Patrick’s Day. Titled The Art of Celebration, the band set out to create a joyful noise, and the result is just that: a collection of joyous, worshipful songs.
Opening track Joy is nothing short of a ukulele party that bursts into a raucous jam. It certainly sets the scene for the album to come, and sticks to the brief of the album title. Lead single My Lighthouse is a knee-slapping good time, and triggers many illustrations from Scripture. For me, the ‘fire before us’ description of God invoked images of the Israelites wandering the desert through the night (Exodus 13:21-22).
More Than Conquerors is a real standout. Featuring a real sea shanty sway, it claims that it is through Christ that we find our identity: ‘We will not bow to sin or shame, we are defined in your name.’ Gang whistles appear on All That I Am; and Immeasurably More trades in the band’s folky instruments for electronic anthem sounds, especially in the bridge. This track in particular is stadium-ready.
Finally Free brings back the guitars and Irish sounds. It’s a modern worship song that I’m certain will be a hot favourite in church congregations all around the world. Lyrically, it’s filled with poetry – ‘You burn away the winter of my cold and weary heart’ – and rejoices in the freedom that we find at the cross of Christ.
It’s around this point of the album, nine songs in, that the record loses a bit of momentum. Strength of My Heart is a bit of a power ballad and Simplicity has some nice moments, but these tracks pale in comparison to the great numbers that precede them.
Thankfully though, the last (studio) track Boldly I Approach (The Art of Celebration) brings things back on track. Whenever I see a song title containing brackets, I assume it will be an epic one, and at six minutes in length this is exactly that. But Boldly I Approach… is an incredibly celebratory song, full of rejoicing, filled with substance: ‘Praise the One who made an end to all my sin. This is the art of celebration. Free from condemnation.’ We can often take the forgiveness and grace of God for granted, but Rend Collective remind us that this is something to be excited about.
As an added bonus there’s also a live version of My Lighthouse and a remix of Joy (which is so sugary it’ll rot your teeth). Compared to the quality on the rest of the album though, these seem like unnecessary filler.
Rend Collective are a band that love beating drums, tinkering on stringed instruments, and shouting loud. The band love making joyous music, and aren’t restricted by any genre to do it. If you’re looking for a Christian record that praises God and is easy to sing (or shout) along to, I recommend The Art of Celebration. I’m giving it three-and-a-half stars out of five.
The Art of Celebration by Rend Collective is available now on iTunes.