Phillips, Craig & Dean

Breathe In

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Coldplay may not be known for their spirituality, but it's difficult to think of another band who've influenced the contemporary Christian rock scene more. Phillips, Craig & Dean may have released their first album when Chris Martin and co. were still in high school, but their twelfth studio album, Breathe In, continues the genre's current obsession with chiming guitar arpeggios, anthemic stadium rock choruses, and epic pounding rhythms on ten tracks, most of which sound like a slightly diluted version of Parachutes or A Rush of Blood to the Head. It's a formula which has previously reaped rewards, judging by the Dove Award-winning success of 2009 predecessor Fearless, but it's also one which now seems to be running out of mileage. The suitably rousing opener, "Great and Glorious," the inspirational singalong of lead single "When the Stars Burn Down, and the hymnal-like rock of "Great I Am" burst out of the block with an emphatic production from Bernie Herms (Casting Crowns) and regular collaborator Nathan Nockels that nearly matches the euphoria of its lyrics. But unfortunately, the record never comes close to reaching the same heights as Fearless, as it coasts along with a series of generic, piano-led ballads ("Tell Your Heart to Beat Again," "All Is Well") and unremarkable midtempo songs ("I Choose to Believe," "Great Great God"), with only the country-tinged Rascal Flatts-esque "These Bones" opting to lead Phillips, Craig & Dean's signature harmonies in a different direction. Fans of polished indie rock worship music will no doubt feel uplifted by Breathe In's first half, but a plodding and derivative second suggests the trio have now milked the Coldplay cow dry.

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