|Press play on this 'Anthem' | Posted September 04, 2011
Press Play started as the brainchild of founder and lead vocalist David Hanley back in 1997. Having formed a close partnership with Matthew Barnett of the renown Los Angeles Dream Center, Dream Center Studios--a state-of the-art recording studio--was founded a year later, with hopes of bringing the idea to life. Thus, Press Play was born. The mission of the group? To speak the gospel through music using modern beats and relevant lyrics.
Nearly 11 years and seven self-produced albums later, with a growing fan base outside the California vicinity, the group made their official debut to the Christian music world back in 2009 with their Life Is Beautiful project on the newly developed Dream Records, a label founded by Hanley, also in partnership with the Dream Center. The album was hit. The group’s electronic pop sound won over listeners instantaneously, and it wasn’t long before fans were hungry for more of what this band had to offer.
Skip ahead to 2011. Following up their successful 2010 album, “NY2LA,” the band announced they were already working hard in the studio on what would be their biggest project yet--a project which we now know as World Anthem.
“Not only was the creation of this project the most humbling and exciting yet, but I can't wait for everyone to take the journey of a lifetime, through these songs," says David Haney of the album. Longtime and newer fans of the band alike couldn’t wait to hear what this band had up their sleeves next.
The album starts off with the title track “World Anthem,” and goes directly into the infectious and club infused “F-I-R-E,” featuring outstanding vocals from Sada K., the lone female vocalist in the group. The head-bobbing “Let It Out” features a melody that could easily make onto secular airwaves, while the fast past and worshipful “Just Like Lighting” takes the listener into a moment of unhindered praise, referring to the presence of God as the thunder and lightning in a world full of rain.
The quirky “Walking On Air” reminds us to let go and let God take control, and leads into the album’s first single, the melodious “Three Little Words.” The song talks about the world’s need for compassion, and our calling to give them the three words they’re looking for: “I love you.” Diving back into their signature dance sound, the robotic “Raise It Up” talks about making God’s name known and is sure to get you up and off your feet.
“Truth Be Told” is by far my favorite track on the entire record. Musically and lyrically, it stands out. Pop with subtle hip-hop hooks conveys the message that the truth is already available, and it’s our duty as believers to shake the world for Christ with it’s message. “Change The World” follows along the same lines, by challenging the listener once again to be the change the world wants to see.
“Save My Life” starts off with a stirring synth-string opening, and goes on to become the darkest track on the record. It’s an open song about the personal tragedies and brokenness we all face in life, but offers the hope we have in Christ: “I am crying out to You, calling out for my rescue, I am nothing without You… save my life.”
“Give It All” is the only real ballad on this project, and goes back to Press Play’s roots as a worship band by leading you into a moment of personal surrender to the Creator. The album comes to a close with the unexpected “Angels Sing,” which was featured on Life Is Beautiful two years ago. The lyrics have been re-worked, but otherwise sounds exactly the same. I would have liked to have seen the music switched up a bit since it is a repeat song that has already been on a studio project, but nonetheless, it’s still a great song, and a nice way to finish the album.
This is a solid album with a lot of heart. Musically, while their sound is incredibly catchy, I’d like to see them combine their signature pop sound with heavier rock, as David Hanley’s dominant lead vocals sound, at times, quite similar to Skillet frontman John Cooper. Above all, it’s the lyrics that take the cake on this project. This band’s unique way of spreading the Gospel while getting people jumpin’ is what makes them so appealing, and it’s been a treat to see how they as a group have evolved in these last several years. World Anthem is Press Play’s strongest effort to date, and if they keep growing at the rate they have, there is no doubt what comes next will be anything short of amazing.
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