Release Date: June 7th 2019
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- On The Way Up 2.0
- Man That I Used To Know
- One In A Million
- Always You
- Tired of LA
- Heaven (All Around You)
Apollo LTD, comprising of Jordan Phillips and Adam Stark, are the latest band to sign to Centricity Music, and for me personally, are also the latest artist to release a debut album recently that has truly grabbed me from the word ‘go’. That’s not to say that other artists this year haven’t wowed me at all, but I guarantee that one listen from the duo will have you agreeing with me- that Jordan and Adam have delivered a high quality album full of both soaring ballads and high octane poppy tunes; while also staying relevant lyrically to current issues in today’s society. With the duo meeting in 2004 as roommates in university, the band’s name was derived from NASA (with Jordan’s uncle an astronaut in the 90’s), and the concept of doing something musically that has never quite been done before; Apollo LTD have created 13 tracks of pure genius, as they attempt to make sense of the world we live in through the only way they know how- through the power of music.
Initially I thought that Apollo LTD was a one-man band from Josh Engler (frontman of Abandon!)- however I was later on mistaken as I searched online for more about the group. Jordan and Adam are on the contrary quite popular in the mainstream media- as we find out that the band have shared the stage with the likes of high profile mainstream acts such as Panic At The Disco, All American Rejects, Ke$ha, Andy Grammar, John Mayer, and DNCE. With their music also being featured on national ad campaigns for Lowes and Verizon Wireless as well as Grey’s Anatomy and numerous CW and MTV shows; both members have a strong sense of Christian faith, and they indeed are currently walking the same, or at least similar paths to artists like Switchfoot, Needtobreathe, Skillet, Relient K and Mat Kearney to name a few. Out Of Body, the duo’s label debut album, dropped to stores last week; so let’s dive in to see how the release lives up to the duo’s already impressive repertoire and reputation.
Last August, Jordan and Adam’s single “Gold” placed them on the map internationally, as a force to be reckoned with in both the CCM and the mainstream media. As we hear what I firmly believe to be a pure CCM pop track; both Adam and Jordan emphatically declare that ‘…You hold the doors wide open, there’s nothing Your love leaves broken, everything that You hold, You make it shine like gold…’, with reference to Jesus invading our lives, and showering us with His unending love, thus making our lives like gold- better than it was before! The beauty of this track though, is that it’s ambiguous lyrically- the group could be singing about a mate or a loved one, and I reckon that’s a good thing, as listeners from all walks of life are drawn in. Hopefully the love of God can reach more people that way, and back then I was hoping that “Gold” was the first of more decidedly overt Christian songs that Apollo LTD release! However, Out Of Body is more decidedly mainstream (which is ok!), and a listen to the rest of the album nonetheless reveals a band so sure of their identity and a band sure of their target audience as well.
“On The Way Up”, as the second single on Out Of Body, has a lot to live up for; and thankfully has met and even exceeded my expectations. Bouncy, joyful and cheerful, we are met with a ball of EDM fun, as the duo create one of the most danceable and head-bopping pop tunes I’ve heard in recent memory. Apollo LTD is certainly underrated however “On The Way Up” will hopefully soon make its way to radio airwaves (the song must be resonating with listeners to demand a second version of the track recorded!) and the band will finally receive the recognition it deserves. Thematically, the track speaks about having someone in your life, be is a sibling or a parent or friends or a significant other, who grounds you and builds you up; while 3rd single “Heaven (All Around You)” is more sombre. A piano only track, we are met with the persona eloquently and vividly describing his love for his significant other through metaphors and imagery- it’s a bit of a sad song as the persona alludes to the fact that this love is all consuming, so much so that it is taking control of his life- but the beauty of this song is that it’s real and it’s vulnerable. Providing us food for thought in how we go about our relationships, “Heaven (All Around You)” delves deep into the concept of how much of a connection between our spouses of girl/boyfriends should we actually have, that is healthy for us. Is this relationship approved by God? Stuff to think about indeed! Apollo LTD also give this track a more poppy current feel as “Heaven” brings forth the synth, electronics and pulsating dance beats!
“DNA” is pop music at its finest- if you want a description of the song in one sentence. Catchy and danceable, happy and bouncy and cheerful, we are met with a ball of EDM fun, as the duo create one of the most danceable and head-bopping pop tunes I’ve heard in recent memory (yep even better than “On The Way Up” by the same band!). Lyrically and in terms of subject matter, the track speaks about having a special someone in your life that is your constant, the one who is connected to your DNA- and again the song is vague in that we don’t know whether the group is singing about a special someone or about God. It’s ambiguous, but I reckon it’s good that Apollo LTD is reaching many music markets that overt Christians wouldn’t and couldn’t. Album opener “Drive” is another synth and keys led pop toe-tapper as the duo earnestly reiterate the notion to us that in order for us to fully live life to the fullest, we need to let Jesus take the wheel and drive our live for us; while the sombre and reflective tune “Man I Used To Know” (sombre in lyrics only, as it is still a pop tune musically!) laments the person that we used to be when we now inexplicably change for the worse, as both Adam and Jordan fervently relay that when we change into someone we don’t like, it’s natural to long for who we once were. Whether we get back to our core values is another question, yet this track forces ourselves to ask the tough questions, as I commend both Adam and Jordan.
“Misfits” gets back to the heart of identity and the fact that we as humans are supposed to be misfits. Even if we feel as if we don’t belong in our own eyes or the eyes of others around us; we can rest easy as Jesus sees us as perfect, and that fact should excite us, right? “One In A Million”, a poppy 3 minute ‘mainstream’ song that would probably sit quite will with some of the most famous pop artists’ today; is a track that sings about the best parts of their partner and how they are ‘one in a million’ or billion; while Apollo LTD throw in a couple of ‘worship’ and CCM like songs within the track-list for variety and musical diversity, as songs like “Always You” and “Supernatural” remind us that there is something bigger than ourselves that we can and should be chasing. While at times these songs don’t sound ‘Christian’, the fact that they can be still interpreted that way (or am I reading too much into it?) is nonetheless uplifting and encouraging as these men of God proclaim Jesus name so covertly- and at a professionalism so admirable and commendable. “Tired Of LA” is essentially that- a seemingly ‘nothing’ song about how the band are tired of living in LA, but it could be viewed either as a literal thing, or a metaphor for being tired of living the famous life of trying to live up to everyone’s expectations. The album ender “Walk” is as inspirational as it sets out to be, as Jordan and Adam encourage us to keep going and keep fighting the good fight. Directing us to ‘get up and walk’, the song may be just simply that, a song about overcoming adversity and making it through this life, or it could be based on what Jesus said to the man with the broken legs and arms whom his friends lowered down from the ceiling of a random house to Jesus’ feet to heal; signifying that we all need to face our fears and tackle them head on with Jesus’ help! And with that, such a stellar debut project ends!
Originally, “Gold” encouraged me to remember that Jesus makes everything around shine brighter; and has also encouraged me to check out the rest of Apollo LTD’s discography. Now that Out Of Body has released, the remainder 12 tracks have further cemented my stance, and I’m definitely a fan of these guys for sure. While only time will tell what kind of songs Apollo LTD record next on their second album; I am very intrigued and quietly excited, and will definitely check out the rest of their discography. So what are you waiting for guys? These guys have your anthems for the whole of 2019 sorted, even if you don’t believe in Jesus yet! So let’s get started, and let us have an ‘out of body’ experience with Jesus!
3 songs to listen to: Gold, DNA, Always You
RIYL: The Afters, OneRepublic, Abandon, Hawk Nelson, Train