needtobreathe – Talk of the Town (Single)

Drive All Night Records

Release Date: June 16th 2022

Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre

needtobreatheTalk of the Town (Single) (Amazon mp3/iTunes)

Track Listing:

  1. Talk of the Town

I wrote about needtobreathe in a blog post in 2020- you can continue reading the blog here, but everything that I probably want to say about needtobreathe, in a nutshell, is expounded upon in the blog that I wrote a couple of years back. And what I wrote a couple of years ago, and my own assertion that I gained, is still valid and true as of now, that needtobreathe is indeed, as I wrote before, ‘America’s most popular band you’ve never heard of’. Bear, Seth, Josh, and the rest of the guys of the band, have crafted a career of delivering standout songs and hopeful melodies, tracks that have been reminding us all of the complexities of life, and the God above all, who uses life and all it’s happenings, to shape and mould us into the people we know He longs for us to be, both now and into the future. Since their inception into music more than 15 years ago, needtobreathe have been on a roll. Possibly one of the most unique, ingenious, emotive, poignant, lyrically impressive, and artistic bands to ever be in both Christian and mainstream music since Switchfoot and Skillet (and before then, U2), these men from South Carolina have been able to use their platform in both Christian and mainstream music to deliver heartfelt melodies and songs that stir the soul. With songs like ‘You Are Here’, ‘Something Beautiful’, ‘Slumber’, ‘Keep Your Eyes Open’, ‘Shine On’, ‘Washed by the Water’, ‘Streets of Gold’, ‘Difference Maker’, ‘Multiplied’, ‘Brother’, and more recently ‘HARD LOVE’, ‘TESTIFY’, ‘Forever on Your Side’, ‘Who Am I’, ‘Banks’ and ‘HAPPINESS’ being some of the standout songs the band have released in their career thus far, Bear Rineheart, Seth Bolt and Josh Lovelace (alongside Joe Stillwell prior to 2014 and Bo Rinehart prior to 2020) have indeed led us all listeners and fans of the band into a place and space where honesty, hope, encouragement, realness and a sense of being yourself, is brought to the fore.

After the highly successful HARDLOVE released in 2016, the band released Forever On Your Side (Niles City Sound Sessions), crafting together a collection of pop-rock melodies with a folk-pop edge, all the while trying to stay relevant musically with contemporaries of the mainstream industry (johnnyswim, Ben Rector, The Civil Wars, Colony House, Echosmith, to name a few)- the standout single ‘Forever on Your Side’, from the four-track EP, was a great standout on that EP, as this band slowly became a force to be reckoned with- in both CCM and mainstream. The band continued to thrive with the album Out of Body in 2020 and Into the Mystery last year, as needtobreathe were able to stretch and challenge our own preconceptions on what we are to believe pop-rock music should sound like, and whether or not we believe wholeheartedly a band like needtobreathe can still survive within a sea of pop-rock/radio friendly artists that seem to unveil and portray song and album releases that are very much similar to albums gone by, all for the sake of radio attention! Both Out of Body and Into the Mystery have garnered critical and commercial success, and even though both these two albums are unveiled less than a year apart (Out of Body was released in August 2020 while Into the Mystery was in July 2021); both these albums produced powerful and standout radio friendly tracks for us all to admire, and with standout songs like ‘Hang On’, ‘Survival’, ‘Banks’, ‘Who Am I?’, ‘Into the Mystery’, ‘Carry Me’, ‘I Am Yours’ and ‘I Wanna Remember’ (to name a few), Bear and co. delivered, what I firmly believed, to be two of their most accomplished, powerful, poignant and compelling albums to date. Now fast-forward towards the end of 2022, and we see yet another unveiling by the band- a single, ‘Talk of the Town’.

While the song has taken me a few listens for me to fully understand the song (and the accompanying music video that goes along with the song), I’ve since understood, that ‘Talk of the Town’ is by far one of the most immersive, heartfelt, and confronting songs I’ve heard from this rock band, in quite some time. They’re always a band who are going against the grain, delivering songs that challenge the status quo, or allow us to think about issues and situations in a new and different way, and that is nothing different on ‘Talk of the Town’. The song itself showcases a theme that seems to be prevalent in a lot of music recently- taking on, and discussing, this issue of hiding behind masks (either real ones or metaphorical), where people seem to curate a certain image to someone presenting a seemingly ‘real’ resemblance of who they are, when all along (they may not even know it yet), people are just walking around, hiding who they are because…well, people always want to present to others, that they are all together and real, even if they are fake…right? While the song on the surface can pose like a breezy summer-like track, the message is much more emotive and poignant. As quoted verbatim by paste magazine, ‘…“Talk of the Town” disguises its critiques under springy percussion and tongue-in-cheek lyrics like, “Sooner or later, we all know plastic castles all fall down.” Foreshadowing the carefully contrived facades crumbling, the band makes it clear that the rat race for likes that everyone is running is more absurd than we could ever imagine…’ As the band relay themselves, of what they want the song to accomplish, we see that ‘…there is such an increasing pressure and gratification to contort our faces and bodies for a picture to share an altered moment or image with the world. The song is playfully asking what we’re hoping to gain by doing that, and is it really worth it?…’

This band from South Carolina completely and blew me away in a good way these last few years and listening to their most recent two albums Out of Body and Into the Mystery, solidify this very fact completely. Never once did I love a ‘mainstream’ band as I have right now- well, maybe Switchfoot…yeah, both needtobreathe and Swichfoot are indeed the bands that have inspired me on my own journey into different musical avenues and my very own appreciation of different styles over the years. But having said all that, needtobreathe are still on the end of ‘influential but not popular’, and maybe that’s ok. needtobreathe doesn’t have to be famous for them to reach the people they need to reach in this society. I’ve learnt that the music I listen to isn’t what ‘normal’ people listen to, and I’ve learnt to be different in that. Not many people may see the appeal of this southern-gospel-rock band, nor would they even agree that I ‘advocated’ for this band when I blogged about them around a couple of years back, but that’s ok. Hopefully from reading the blog, as well as reading the reviews of Out of Body, alongside Into the Mystery and this review of ‘Talk of the Town’, people can at least check out Bear Rinehart and his friends, even if it is only once, just to see how they are and whether they resonate with them or not. And maybe, just maybe, this band can impact like it always does to people who listen, myself included!

Score: 5/5

RIYL: Jon Foreman, Switchfoot, Jillian Edwards, Colony House, Goo Goo Dolls, Lifehouse, The Fray, OneRepublic

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