Two years after leaving Newsboys, of which he had been a founding member and, lately, the lead singer, Peter Furler launches his solo career with On Fire. "I'm Alive" serves as his statement of purpose, acknowledging that there have been troubles, but recommitting the singer to his faith and the expression of it. Not surprisingly, the vocals take a more prominent place in the mix than on Furler's Newsboys recordings, and his clear, smooth tenor is used to enunciate lyrics that mix expressions of belief in God with messages of support to those who have struggled. Furler sets his tunes to synth pop arrangements and dance tempos, strongly suggesting the pop music of the 1980s and early ‘90s. "Never Ending Love Song," for example, sounds like early Depeche Mode of the "Just Can't Get Enough" era with synthesizer player Vince Clarke, or, since Furler's timbre is not that different from Andy Bell's, like Clarke's subsequent group, Erasure. For "Closer," a duet with occasional Newsboys producer Steve Taylor, the funky music is reminiscent of INXS. Clearly, this is an album for Furler to tour behind, as he makes clear in "Faster and Louder," another bouncy synth pop dance tune. "I wanna make some noise, wanna cause a stir," he declares, and he even dubs in the sounds of a crowd, anticipating the singalongs to come. He closes with an anthemic rocker, "Greater Is He," which continues the echoes of the ‘80s, sounding like something Big Country or the Alarm might have played, if they had been similarly inspired by faith. On Fire gets Furler's solo career off with a bang, giving him more than just his Newsboys hits to sing for fans.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann