September 27, 1999

'Underdog' delivers powerful musical, lyrical knockout

by Josh Renaud
staff editor

When you were a kid, did you ever pose in front of a mirror and try to make big muscles? Maybe you tested funky new hairstyles or practiced a million movie-star smiles, the whole time imagining what it would be like to be a super-strong superman or a lean teen beauty queen.

Audio Adrenaline has a message for you: You'll never be strong enough, pretty enough, or good enough. Their terrific new rock album "Underdog" is all about our need to rely on a higher power.

On their last album, "Some Kind of Zombie," the band tried to move away from their signature pop-rock sound by adding crunchier, grittier guitars, harder-edged vocals, and a lot of electronic sampling. "Underdog" is a return to their roots. The sampling is still there, but it's much more subtle, resulting in a group of incredibly fun songs.

The light, danceable sound of the music, though, belies a heavier message. The first six songs all center around the theme of human inadequacy and our need to rely completely on God for our strength. The band sings that they've learned they can only find everything they need when they're broken before God.

The disc concludes with a brilliant and humorous story-song called "The Houseplant Song." Christian musicians have long had to battle a small but vocal group of people who claim that all rock music is "of the devil." This song begins with one man's attempt to disprove the critics by exposing houseplants to different forms of music. The song takes a surprising turn dealing with priorities.

All in all, "Underdog" is a great album. Great guitar work and well-orchestrated sampling make it enjoyable to listen to, but a well-written set of songs make it important to think about.

This article was reprinted with permission from The Current.

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