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MIX OF LIFE (2002)
Mix of Life - Click to view! First it was worship music. Look around and you'll notice everybody, and their mom, and their dog, releasing a worship album. Now it seems as if remix albums have also become trendy lately. ZOEgirl is merely one among this latest remix campaign - others included Avalon, the Newsboys, and Rachael Lampa. And let's face it: after releasing only two records, a remix project seems kind of like a cheap shot at moneymaking. Stacked up against others of its kind, however, ZOEgirl's remixes are worth your while, and your wallet, if you happen to have a taste for bubblegum pop, that is.

The spunky "Dismissed (Omega 8 Mix)" precedes the ensemble with the random synthesizer bleeps and dings you'd expect from a Joy Electric album. In fact, much of the original music from ZOEgirl's Life album has been removed and replaced with techno, synth-like effects, including layered vocals. All three girls' voices echo with static, adding a cool, semi-layered effect to the vocal parts. This and the heavy bass boost added to "Dismissed" makes the track sound like something ripped from a Britney Spears CD. The Prefab Mix of "Even If" sounds more aesthetically pleasing. The entire cut has been revamped and given a dance club edge, ideal for fans of trance and ambient music. Unfortunately, the chorus sticks out like a sore thumb, retaining much of its original sound and cutting the computerized voice-overs to a minimum. Track #3 radiates with as much unusualness as the concept of a Newsboys remix album. It's a Trip Rock mix of "I Believe" from the group's self-titled debut, and if you've ever heard the original track, you know that it took real creative genius to evolve it into a headbanging, alternative piece. Melodic, acoustic guitar serves as the backdrop for the trio's vocal rush, and upon reaching the chorus, the acoustic is flattened by deafening, heavy, electric guitar riffs. Bliss reigns until the bridge originates; the light, pop harmonies used by the girls are nearly impossible to convert into edgy rock, even with the right instruments, but overall the track does not disappoint.

No doubt the most impressive remix, the You Like That? mix of "Save Myself" raises the bar a notch into the "hard-pop" category, as the cut is smeared with weighty drum beats, intentional skipping, and the computer-laced synth so popular in Kylie Minogue's work. Mainstream teenyboppers will eat this one up, as well as the Madame Lapulse mix of the spicy, urban jive "Anything is Possible." Don't let the high-energy, trance pulse fool you; it's really jazzercise in disguise. Still, all three ladies are in top vocal form here, and the excess techno/synthesizer solo keeps the beats kickin' whether you're doing aerobics or making a fool of yourself on the dance club floor.

As with most remix projects, not all cuts necessarily "make the cut," including the Beatmart mix of "With All of My Heart." In spite of Soul Purpose's knockout presence during the intro, the rest of the track falls prey to weak interludes and less than average vocal harmony. Other skipworthy remixes include the Turbo Radio mix of "Here and Now," which sounds too much like an average ZOEgirl song, the Nova mix of "Waiting," and the redundant Ghost mix of "Living for You," in which case not even a rap bridge by Grits can save it from lackluster programming.

While remix discs can be an effective way to get fans of mainstream pop hooked on something more wholesome, ZOEgirl's Mix of Life also offers a look at the "what ifs?" -- how certain songs could have turned out were they approached from a different perspective. However, if you're wanting a look at the more spiritual side of ZOEgirl, you're better off sticking with one of their two previous releases, as Mix of Life is more of a show-off of instrumentation. And for a Christian pop act, it's very well done; perhaps ZOEgirl's best. Show up for the music, stay for the message, maybe?
- Rick Foux
January 2003
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