NEEDTOBREATHE – HARD LOVE
Simply put, NEEDTOBREATHE has been operating on a level most other bands can only imagine. Since the release of The Outsiders in 2009, the band has been on an impressive creative streak. They followed up The Outsiders with The Reckoning (2011), an album that could only be produced by a band at the top of their game. Rivers in the Wasteland (2014) came next, showing the world that the previous two albums were no fluke. The band was here to stay. There is a confidence to their music that is almost unmatched in popular music. Each release finds the band breaking new ground, perfecting the tried and true, and making music that is both immediately accessible and ultimately lasting.
HARD LOVE has it in it to shatter expectations and raise a few eyebrows. This is not a simple evolution. This is a redefining. A full-throttle drive over the edge of a cliff. Yet it is still 100% NEEDTOBREATHE. It is just that type of contradiction that has me scratching my head and singing along at the same time. Gone are the southern rock inspired anthems, replaced by synths and sugary pop melodies. Don’t worry too much though, they haven’t completely abandoned their roots. There are still plenty of gospel, blues, and rockabilly inspired riffs and rhythms to keep most of their passionate fan-base happy.
The band has opted for a more hook friendly, dance/hip-hop sound on HARD LOVE. There are more love songs on this album than they have done in years, some of which would come across as pandering if not delivered with their trademark sincerity. For long-time fans of the band, this might all sound rather discouraging. I’m not here to tell you that you will love HARD LOVE. I’m just telling you to give it a shot.
NEEDTOBREATHE has never been content to remain stagnant. They have always added new sounds, new inspirations, and new forms of expression. HARD LOVE is no different. Yes, this is a bigger transition than we have seen previously from the band. Yes, it is a significant departure from the styles and sounds that have made them such a beloved band. But it is also full of energy and passion – two things the band has always delivered. HARD LOVE grabs you from the opening track and never really lets go. Most of the songs are quick little numbers, a handful not even cracking the 3 minute mark. They go for immediacy and impact instead of contemplation and gravity.
While I can’t promise you that you will love the album, I am very confident you will want to dance when you hear it. HARD LOVE aims for fun above all else. I can’t really fault them for that. Perhaps it won’t have the same lasting value and impact as their previous three albums, but none of that seems to matter while I am listening to it.
Standouts: HARD LOVE, GREAT NIGHT, WHEN I SING, TESTIFY