Review Summary: While the decisions made behind this reissue of the group’s third album are puzzling, fans will be fond of the new tracks.The Third
, a reissue of Christian crunk rock act Family Force 5’s third album III
, has some peculiar features about it. The album subtracts three of the ten songs on the original version of III
, and replaces them with “Superhero” from last year’s digital re-release of the album, and the two new tracks from the III.V
EP, “Zombie” and “Cray Button.” Now, reissuing III
with the tracks from the III.V
EP for the purpose of having all the songs in one convenient place would make sense, but doing away with three tracks off of the original album was not a necessary move at all. The Third
is ten tracks in length, the same as III
, but keeping the original amount of songs and adding merely three new songs to the mix is the most common of occurrences with reissues, and one would think that a thirteen track album would not be out of the question at all.
Fortunately though, even if it may seem like a limiting and overly-condensed move, Family Force 5 thankfully made the decision to eliminate only the weaker cuts on III
, and replace them with new tracks that are much more hit material. Despite the songs not showing any real progression for the crunk group’s sound, both “Cray Button” and “Zombie” have better potential for success as singles, as they both bring bigger and catchier hooks to an album that was hook-oriented to begin with. For variation’s sake, “Superhero” works with “Not Alone” to tone down the album’s predominately bombastic attitude for a few minutes of melodic soul searching, reminding listeners of their faith and serious side in soaring – albeit generic – Christian rock anthems.
Even if the track listing is rearranged quite a bit from III
, not much on The Third
is different consistency-wise. This time “Superhero” and “Not Alone” conclude the album on a more passionate note than the ridiculousness of the blitz beat-laden hip hop song “Get On Outta Here,” but aside from that, these are really the same flow of tracks, and just like on III
, it is damned near impossible to take Family Force 5 seriously. Not that they intend to be taken seriously, their over the top blend of punk, crunk, hip hop, pop, and rock has always been just made with a mindless good time in mind. The problem lies in the way Family Force 5 deals with genres and mixes them together, which is in such a bland and processed way, that the group seems to simply infuse the bare minimum of a style’s aspects into a song, stir it with other styles they’ve done the same with, and then doesn't bother to venture anywhere further with either one of the various styles. It’s a shame because, as there was on III
, there’s much unexplored potential for rap metal fusions and pop punk combos, that are never taken advantage of on The Third
because of Family Force 5’s odd obsession with sterilized crunk music.
What Family Force 5 does benefit from here on The Third
, and always have, is their knack for making unrestrained, colorful, and dazzling dance-club bangers for the Christian circles. Family Force 5 have a talent for taking crunk music, which nearly always comes with profanity, lewd themes, and vulgar subject matter, and only retains the style of the beats and force of the personality without any of the dirty aspects of southern crunk. They blend crunk with just enough pop to make it accessible and clean for Christian audiences to let go to their own type of humor-tinged crunk music without the coarse language and sexual themes that are well-known qualities of the shameless genre.
The tracks that were replaced here were throwaways anyway, and most likely won’t be missed by fans excited to have the new songs, which still deliver the wild crunk tunes that bring the hooks while keeping it clean that Family Force 5 is popular for providing, and ultimately make The Third
a stronger album overall than III