Some bands have mastered the art of writing songs worthy for summer playlists. Usually, it’s the pop artists, pop punk bands, and indie electronic artists that fit the bill.
But what about a worship band? It’s certainly not what I would imagine being summery by any means. Indeed, the songs we hear on Sundays generally are in a similar vein, and they’re friendly for the church band and the congregation.
But Rivers & Robots break this mold with bold ambition. Originally the solo project of UK artist Jonathan Ogden, it expanded to a four-piece. The group has even worked with Come&Live.
Eternal Son builds on the group’s previous works, full of electronic influence, to create a work that’s theologically-solid yet would find a spot nicely on a summer playlist all the same.
The album opens with Wait for You, a reverby track that bears semblance to chillwave artists. There’s a strong groove and a simple-yet-punchy bassline that make this a standout track. The song has a warm, upbeat feeling that certainly places high expectations on the rest of the record.
Fullness of God starts out a bit more relaxed, with only vocals and guitars. However, drums, bass, and synth all find their way into the mix after the first mix. “In Him, all the fullness of God is pleased to dwell. Through Him, He will recognize all things to Himself,” Odgen sings over a guitar line that would fit with in a The Cure song.
The chillwave influence is definitely present on One Day With You, with lyrical concepts similar to Better is One Day. It’s a unique sonic take on how one moment with God will be better than anything else.
The action breaks with the piano-based To the Highest Place. Unlike Fullness of God, the track doesn’t build up; however, there are layers of vocal harmonies and a subtle use of strings at parts that certainly add some depth.
Fans of Josh Garrels will likely enjoy A Love That Carries Me, with a strong, funky bassline and intermittent use of falsetto.
High Priest begin with a stomp-clap intro that flows into a smooth mix of synth, drums, and bass. At this point, the formula starts to get a bit predictable, but there’s still plenty of variety to keep the listener from getting bored. “You turn mourning into dancing and sorrow into joy” is repeated several times before tremelo-picked guitars create a swirling finish.
The drumming and bass are essential to the album, and Lift up My Eyes is probably one of the best evidences of this.
The album’s title track is an interesting change of pace, with a saxophone intro with an underlying hip-hop beat. It’s a departure from the synth-based tracks, but it still showcases a fair bit of guitarwork. Again, I think Josh Garrels fans would enjoy this track.
The final track, Jesus, Your Blood, feels similiar to what many of us would commonly expect worship to sound. It’s a pretty bare track, save the ending, but it’s still captivating.
Overall, the group has created a solid album that manages to combine elements of chillwave, beach rock, and indie with powerful theological concepts. My only complaint is that some songs feel a bit out of place or a bit repetitive. In general, the album maintains a groovy summer feeling that’s sure to provide a nice break from the incoming cold weather.
For fans of: Josh Garrels, Washed Out, Com Truise, Glowhouse