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Hi-Fi Revival - Click to view! Attend church services all your life, and odds are you'll hear the same sermon more than once. What benefits does this bestow? Aside from saving the pastor from having to write another sermon for a week, not much, unless you're a new Christian who needs some discipleship training. From the rest of the audience you'll more than likely hear a few muffled groans and whispers of "There goes Brother Richard with that infidelity sermon again…didn't he preach that one last Christmas?"

Listening to The O.C. Supertones' Hi-Fi Revival is like attending one thousand of the same church services in one day. Aside from rather poor musicianship and rushed quality of production, the band's songwriting goes almost nowhere on their 5th LP, preaching the same "God is good" message throughout Hi-Fi Revival's fifteen-track span. Compared to previous projects from the O.C. Boys, we'd expect a more intelligent approach to the Gospel. Songs such as "Little Man," "Chase the Sun," and "Return of the Revolution," which provoked thought and further research, are no more. Instead, Hi-Fi Revival replaces these triumphs with lesser lyrics that a 5th grader could pen. Examples include the swing-laden "Welcome Home," the blatantly flat "Just A Man," and the showoff-ish rocker "Fire," do nothing but attempt to make the Supertones sound really cool. "Radio Plays" is an insult to thoughtful songwriting: "All day long I hear the same five songs, and the words go blah blah blah / the radio plays a whole lot of nothing / I wish that they'd play a song about something." Despite the truthfulness of this cut, there's nothing that saves it from sounding ridiculously childish. In fact, "Let It Go" stoops to insults to get a point across ("I'm sorry but I think you're dumb / to let your soul have get so numb"). Finally, the record hits rock bottom with the incessant annoyances of "Forever," in which the word "forever" - which makes up the entire chorus - is repeated over thirty-two times with no real point behind it. This is definitely not something you'd want to hear at a concert, and definitely not a song that will cause you to evaluate your relationship with God.

Musical quality is also less than average. Surprisingly anti-ska this time around, The Supertones have devolved from being the best ska band in the Christian music industry to, well, a youth group rock band with brass instruments. The horns undoubtedly lend some distraction to "Hold On To Jesus," one of the record's more worshipful tunes, and an acoustic based setting would have been far more comfortable than the odd synthesizer and brass arrangements. Furthermore, "Go Your Way" provides a headache-inducing drop in musicianship, breaking the monotony of the screeching electric guitar with only hand claps. The Supertones manage to swing the rock curve nicely on "Birth of Uncool," but once again the instruments take on a hybrid of monotony that is never remedied until after the song's abrupt finish. Other disturbing displays of performance include "Fire," "Let It Go," "Just a Man," and of course the resident just plain horrible song on the disc, "Forever," with riffs that meander slightly off course and a chaotic storm of drums and brass.

Why can't I recommend Hi-Fi Revival? To put it plainly, The Supertones seem to have sacrificed quality for quantity as of late. This could be evidenced by the fact that the guys also put out a live album earlier in 2002. The entire fifteen tracks of the CD span little more than forty-five minutes, and very few of them will appeal to any longtime Supertones fans. Those aching for familiarity will probably find a friend in "Superfly," "Brand New Thing," "Perfect Love," and "Glory Hallelujah" (you can tell the band had fun making that song), but the rest of the album falls miles behind anything the Supertones have put out previously. Spiritually shallow and musically lackluster, Hi-Fi Revival is anything but.
- Rick Foux
November 2002
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