Review Summary: Love them or hate them, they do what they do what they do pretty well.1 of 1 thought this review was well written
Family Force 5 is a five piece group that plays inoffensive "crunk"/hip-hop/dance/electronic music. The band members all have stage names such as Soul Glow Activatur and Chapstique. A later remix album featured talents as diverse as 3OH!3, Red, David Crowder Band, and Cobra Starship. When they perform their most popular song live the lead singer wears huge gloves that resemble hulk hands. So at this point you have probably either face palmed and cried about the current state of music, or, a small minority, maintain a cautious optimism. The former should stop reading and never listen to this; the latter maintain an open mind.
The thing you have to understand is that everything is over the top. If this album were a candy it would be one of those colorful pinwheel lollipop with a foot and a half diameter. It can kind of turn you off just because it’s so ridiculous, but its tough to pin down any real flaw. The guys manage to keep things moving well and the songs transition fairly well and manage to sound all stylistically the same but not run together too much. They use different synthesized beats lavishly, but surprisingly not excessively. It's a perfect balance of effects to actually help their songs and not ruin them. The songs get crazy quickly, but some superb production keeps them at least slightly reigned in. It's like some fantasy movie where the concept as a whole is just absurd, but if you can just go with it, it may actually be incredibly entertaining and fantastical.
Vocalist Solomon Olds (Soul Glow Activatur) takes the forefront in every song. Lyrically, every song is pretty shallow but in some way oddly clever. What he's singing/rapping is pretty stupid but, hey, he can get it across pretty eloquently. Lyrics like "Tailgate party at the Pig Wig / jumpin' up and down in the back of a truck bed / look at that kid tryin' to act all big / trying to break-dance so break his leg / he ain't got what I got / let's make it hot in this parking lot" aren't impressive at all, unless you factor in the fact that he gets all that across in about seven and a half seconds and its remarkably easy to understand him. The guy can spit clear words out at breakneck speeds, so there is some talent shown in some way or another.
This is of course the deluxe edition, so you have three tracks tacked on to the end of the album. Surprisingly, these three tracks are all noticeably better than most of the tracks earlier on the album. They throw out the party-party-party lyrics and minimize the effects to take on a more traditional approach. “I Love You To Death” features more prevalent drums, less distorted guitars, and a driving chorus. “Face Down” is significantly restrained compared to anything on the original release and is more generic, but amazingly, this makes it better. It’s pretty straightforward, which is refreshing after an album of absurdities and freakiness. A strong chorus and possibly even slightly strong lyrics makes this a highlight for sure. “Never Let Me Go” sounds like a stripped down song on the original track list and is significantly less dense. It's catchy and well written, and finishes the three new tracks nicely. It's almost humorous how much the bonus tracks overshadow the original release, and if a few similar tracks could have been released as a five or six track EP it could have been really fantastic.
Like it or not, you have to give them props for finding an audience. Surely there are a lot of kids out there who are looking for something safe to listen to but want something a little crazier deep down inside of them. Gotee (a tobyMac label for those who don't know) got their stuff to the Christian bookstores, which inevitably got FF5 to youth groups, which ate this up. Not only that, but they achieved considerable success in the secular markets. So in some ways, this is a new idea. No one had really tried to hit such an audience before, and it paid significant dividends for the guys. So love them or hate them, you gotta admit that they're kinda clever. And if you can accept their genre of music in general, you might realize that they're not half bad.
Recommended Tracks: Face Down, Cadillac Phunque, I Love You To Death, Kountry Gentlemen