NEEDTOBREATHE returns with their eighth studio album, ‘Into The Mystery’, following up on 2020’s ‘Out of Body.’ Covid restrictions have put their tour on hold over the past year, so the band took refuge at an old historic house near Columbia, Tennessee. In the autumn of 2020, they lived, ate, joked, and recorded together for three weeks. The outcome is an electrifying album that captures the band’s South Carolina heritage.
It’s clear to see why the Christian rock band, NEEDTOBREATHE have such a massive following. They have an ability to write songs that connect deeply with listeners and form emotional ties with them that haven’t been seen since the likes of epic bands; Lifehouse, Goo Goo Dolls and Daughtry. With a sound that is both diverse and anthemic, the band have set the scene with their newest release that will burn through the summer and set ears alight.
The album is sophisticated and genius and will be transformative in the charts. Bear’s voice is uniquely distinctive and unusual as it always has been. Bear has a unique gift to be able to empathise on a deeply personal level before flawlessly switching to a booming voice that will knock your socks off.
The album’s opening song, “What I’m Here For,” and the title track, ‘Into The Mystery’, establish the tone. A bucolic, beautiful, folk-rock record with choral harmonies reminiscent of Imagine Dragons. Written and recorded when the world was on lockdown, the band was able to write songs that were extremely introspective. However, consider the world in which we live and how our lives fit into it. Examining the mystique as well as the promise of our life. The album title could potentially be a reference to Mumford and Sons’ “Babel”.
‘Into The Mystery’ is a soundtrack that you can imagine would kick off a cult romantic comedy film. The song is uplifting and feels as though you are travelling somewhere new and promising. Perfect for our current era, in which we have never felt lonelier and more divided from one another.
This is exemplified in the following lyric:
We are sons and daughters
We are flesh and dust
We are pulled from the wreckage
We are not alone
We are lovers broken
We are vicarious dreams
We are tumblin’ in space, out of control
Into The Mystery (ah)
The album’s summer radio hit songs are ‘Sunshine’ and ‘Sit-in’ In The Back Seat.’ The latter has a carefree chorus that is extremely contemporary pop. With continuous synth pads and layers of vocal harmonies, they maintain an almost ethereal aspect to the music. Throughout, there is a steady variety of dynamic textures. This song’s lyrics deal with the topic of being young and not knowing what you want to do with your life. Lyrically, this song explores the theme of being youthful and unconcerned about everything. Back when there was no tension in life, and everything seemed to be good. “When we were young and undefeated,” as the chorus puts it. For such a light summer song, the lyrics reflect the truth in the year.
Another piece with symphonic elements is titled ‘Chances.’ With the usage of unique instrumentation and interesting chordal transitions that at times lend an almost syncopated flavour to the music with the overlapping of accidentals, it’s practically Creedence Clear Water Revival. The usage of orchestral layering is also prominent on ‘Don’t Throw All The Good Things Away,’ which is arguably the most popular song on the album.
The use of symphony textures is especially prominent on ‘Don’t Throw All The Good Things Away,’ which is the album’s most austere track. The song has a gothic feel to it, with mild acoustic guitar, shuddering strings, piano, strings, and layered backup vocals. This, on the other hand, fits in with the lyric’s more melancholic tone, which is about being careful to discard things in life without a care.
‘Give Me A Chance’ has a confidence to it and has a Rolling Stones meets Country-Rock feel to it. There’s also a killer slide guitar solo.
Jon Foreman (Switchfoot), Natalie Hemby, and Carrie Underwood’s “I Wanna Remember” are among the album’s many collaborations. In a magnificent, soul duet, two vocalists at the top of their game recollect the times in your life that you never want to forget in “I Wanna Remember.” The song has several layers and might be used to commemorate any occasion, such as a wedding or a significant life event. However, given the nature of the duet, the most logical option is recalling that first kiss or a cherished moment together. The song is currently burning up the radio and introducing the band to a brand new fan base. During this year’s CMT Music Awards, the band performed the song with Carrie Underwood.
The song “Innocence” is a call to return to childhood innocence. The desire to return to your childhood home and to those carefree days when you were younger. It reminds me a little of The Fray’s “Hold my hand” at times.
The album ends on ‘West Texas Wind.’ The song’s strength and beauty blew me away and was reminiscent of the time when I found my faith in a Christian summer camp. The song deals with the concept of growing older, and deals accepting the paths you have chosen, and the lessons learned. It also talks about being ready, and present for the best moments of your life and for me, was the main message of the song.
My blood and my bones
My heart and my hands
They try to hold all of this in
So, I’m running to you like a west Texas wind
Singing God, I need you, oh, how I need you
God, I need you again
The album’s great closing track. The instrumental play-out makes it seem as if the listener’s spirit is on its way to its next adventure.
NEEDTOBREATHE recognise the great power of music and lyrics throughout the album. Their songs are musically uplifting and are an open call to those in needing to feel empowered. ‘Into The Mystery’ has become another album that will be forever locked moments in time, captured in the expectation of comforting and mending both the author and the listener.
Each track flows simultaneously together, that are individually and collectively inspiring. Overall, this is an album created with a cultured passion that listeners can feel in their bones. ‘Into The Mystery’ is an album for the ages and will remind you that you are not alone and that you were made to be exactly who the world needs you to be.