Rend Collective Experiment have gone from relative obscurity to worldwide success in a very short space of time.
Organic Family Hymnal was always going to be a tough act to follow. It featured an exceptional rendition of Love Divine, the much loved hit single Movements and a guest appearance from the legendary David Crowder.
Saying the Irish rockers bring a unique mixture of acoustic, pop and folk genres to the table, doesn’t quite do the band justice. The reality is somewhat greater than that. In a world where a growing number of Christians are complaining 'modern worship music all sounds the same', Rend are a breath of fresh air.
That’s the good news. The bad is Homemade Worship By Handmade People doesn’t quite measure up to the brilliance of the band’s first album. What made their debut special was the collective's commitment to doing things differently. Rend's formula is certinaly unique. But it is still a formula. There are moments when you can't help but wonder if the band have settled and given up pushing the boundaries.
That’s not to say Homemade Worship isn’t a great album. It just doesn’t have the same spark of genius that was captured so well on Organic Family Hymnal.
There are still some great tracks that make the album well worth purchasing. The collective’s version of “Be Thou My Vision is the best I’ve ever heard. Imagine Fleet Foxes covering the Wesleyan hymn, and you won’t be far off the sound Rend have captured.
A close second to You Are My Vision is Build Your Kingdom Here. It’s an anthem of bold declaration set to a strong beats. “Set your church on fire / Win this nation back / Change the atmosphere / Build your kingdom here.”
The album opener: Praise Like Fireworks picks up where the band’s first single Movements left off. It’s fun and upbeat, “You’ve given us a heart / Given us a home with you” the band sing.
The Collective have played to each other’s strengths in the vocal department, with both male and female vocals taking turns to lead the singing. Will’s vocals in Christ Has Set Me Free are particularly impressive. The stripped down acoustic guitar led track is less than 3 minutes long, yet is packed full of hope and quiet thankfulness.
There’s plenty of positive messages tucked away in Homemade Worship. Rend’s strength lies in not just singing to God or about God, but including a sense of community and family their songs.
To call the band the band's music "organic" and "authentic" isn’t mere hype or clever PR. Rend may have one of the UK’s biggest Christian music publishers behind them, yet they opted to record the album in their homes. They also produced limited editions of the album, which come in hand made cloth bags.
For those who are new to the band, Organic Family Hymnal is a must buy. Fans of that debut album will no doubt enjoy Homemade Worship, it’s just a shame Rend have struggled to match the brilliance of their debut release.
Rating: 6 out of 10
February 16th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Sam Hailes