Rock 'N' Roll Worship Circus

A Beautiful Glow

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Alternative CCM artists are often stuck between a rock and a hard decision. Modern production wizardry and MTV-generation savvy account for as many catchy hooks and cool T-shirts inside the church as they do outside on the street. But to bring their message to the masses, the mainstream usually demands a dulling down, or even a wholesale heave-ho of the good book's philosophies. Some end up choosing the pay over the pray, and cut their ties with the tithe. Others sit on the fence, trying to speak with two tongues. Still others keep their reverent lamplight turned up bright, the better that it reaches the back rows where the great unwashed sit. Rock 'N' Roll Worship Circus is one of the latter, and Beautiful Glow is their latest stab at rocking both the saved and the secular with equal abandon. The title track opens this circus for business with organs stolen from the Cure, and loopy, scratchy, guitars treated with the same mixing board trickery that helps modern rockers like Fuel sell millions of records. "Love Colour" layers co-ed la la la's, and a big British trad rock guitar hook, with lyrics like "If you want to see God/Just look for his face" -- it's the Dandy Warhols preaching to the choir. As blatant as the Worship Circus' faith will be to the unconverted -- and "Blessed Tune [We Will Sing Forever]" doesn't pull any pious punches -- the predominance of dream pop influences, warm touches of rustic Americana, and -- most of all -- top-shelf songwriting, make it difficult to ignore that the Worship Circus' name begins with "Rock & Roll." That being said, Beautiful Glow does suffer from a few of the same things that plague its mainstream brethren. "New Wave Revolution"'s hard charging screed is unconvincing, and the album's slick production occasionally hinders instead of helping, marring both the message and the music. However, this is minor. Tracks like the chiming, 1960s bop of "Morning Glory" (is that the La's?) or the moody, slightly psychedelic closer "Loveliest Bride" -- which occasionally suggests a back-masked version of the Folk Implosion's "Natural One" -- more than make up for the missteps. Beautiful Glow is just a great album.

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