Grammy’s and platinum records? Nah, I want FIFA! In Fluorescence by Half Alive
RECORD REVIW OF HALF ALIVE'S IN FLUORESCENCE
Every Friday I sit down ready to trawl through the latest releases from the music industry in order to find the hottest tracks for Cathedral Music. I set the volume at a medium level, almost as a challenge to each track, daring it to make me turn it up. If I find my hand reaching out to the volume dial, then I know the track has risen to my challenge, and will more than likely get an enthusiastic shout out on Insta stories. Within a few seconds of the enticing overture from 'Runaway' I noticed my hand acting on its own autonomy and the volume began creeping up. We have a winner. By the end of the first chorus I was flat on my back in a state of pure elation with the volume at a level that would make any audiologist wince.
The EP’s opening orchestral composition is punctuated with a syncopated indie drumbeat, setting the tone for the record and notifying the listener that they’re about to experience an exciting genre-fluid EP. Throughout its four tracks, this dynamic record provides us with countless moments of incredible musicianship including the mid-song time signature shift for the chorus of ‘Runaway’, the additional deep horns providing a daunting eeriness to the 70’s funk vibes of ‘Still Feel’ and the playful improvisation at the end of ‘Breakfast’ which concludes the EP.
"I could not ask any more from a record. Boundary breaking, exciting and clever musicianship partnered with delicate and poetic lyricism that points towards hope and faith."
As I felt myself being consumed by the music and transported to a different place, it was like I was having a spiritual experience with the record. I intentionally decided to dive deeper into the lyrics and was blown away to discover each track is packed with poetic and nuanced gospel lyricism. ‘Runaway’ says “I found blessings flowing from the sight of heaven” and ‘Still Feel’ sings “To realise the hand of life is reaching out”. Half Alive then decide to step up from the lyrical nuance in the third track ‘Creature’ by uncompromisingly declaring the hopeful message of Jesus:
Early days and sleepless nights, Death and resurrection life.
My body is a sacred note, sung between the flesh and hope
My dirt transformed within a breath, before I took a single step
I'm looking forward to the day when life can grow without decay
Humanity is not alone, when Jesus Christ sits on the throne
The vulnerability of this track is accented by Josh Taylor’s (lead singer) decision to employ shaky vocal delivery which emits a reverence for the song and fear of its content. I could not ask any more from a record. Boundary breaking, exciting and clever musicianship partnered with delicate and poetic lyricism that points towards hope and faith.
I enjoy an acoustic or live version of a song as much as the next person, but I’ll hesitate to promote it over other new releases because it’s something we already know. However, I believe this EP to be remarkable because it truly is a reimagination of their songs. Half Alive embraced this process by changing a whole host of features including time signatures, tempos, hooks, melodic deliveries and genres. Alongside this they avoid the disappointingly easy, and far too frequently used, feature of allowing the orchestra the intros and outros with a few strings in the middle, instead they carefully carve out specific movements of orchestration that not only compliment the original track but provide it with a new identity. For example, Runaway transforms from a quirky indie song into a track that you could imagine being sung by a member of The Rat Pack were it not for the falsetto lines.
"it is not just a benchmark but a wake-up call to Christian musicians who claim that you can’t sing about Jesus and appeal to the mass market and mainstream media."
Discovering this record and Half Alive filled me with both sadness and excitement. I was sad that I had not discovered this band before and that my life had been devoid of this great music, but excited that it provided me with a great opportunity to dive into their back catalogue. Despite this being what I believed to be my first encounter with Half Alive I had a strangely familiar feeling when I heard ‘Runaway’ as I found myself singing along to the chorus, which at the time I attributed to good song writing. It wasn’t for another couple of days until I realised when sat down at my PlayStation that ‘Runaway’ was on FIFA 20! When I was 15 my idea as peaking as a musician was to land a song on the FIFA soundtrack, you can forget about Grammys and platinum albums, I wanted FIFA! This is a hugely significant and impressive achievement and sets a new benchmark for Christian musicians out there as they have accomplished this with a track that includes gospel centred lyrics such as “Lean on truth inside the promise it is well”.
Actually, I want to raise the charge here, it is not just a benchmark but a wake-up call to Christian musicians who claim that you can’t sing about Jesus and appeal to the mass market and mainstream media. If I’ve learned anything on my journey thus far with Cathedral Music, it’s that people are looking for hope in their music; take the career path and appeal of Lauren Daigle and NF for example. We’ve also seen hip-hop artists such as Stormzy, Kanye and Chance engage with millions of followers through songs that explore their faith, and Half Alive have demonstrated that this is not just a trait that resides exclusively in the hip-hop genre. It’s not that people don’t want Jesus in their music, it’s just that they don’t want Him if its cliché and predictable; they want lyrics and music that are as creative and mind-blowing as He is.