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Wish We All Could Win
Artist: The Afters
Label: Simple Records/INO
I Wish We All Could Win marks the major label debut of The Afters. The cover art, pictures of a tortoise and a hare, provides the hint as to the meaning of the title. The line is contained in the song “Someday,” which laments the fact that not all who begin running the race will complete it.[ Per the band, he song Beautiful Love was written by Josh Havens for his wife. It is not a song about Christ]
“Beautiful Love,” a potential crossover hit, opens with a blazing guitar intro. Unfortunately, the song falls into the CCM “is this about Jesus or a girl?” trap, with lines like “What a beautiful smile/Can I stay for a while/On this beautiful night/We’ll make everything right/My beautiful love.”
“Love Lead Me On” is the best track vocally, illustrating what the first six tracks collectively do – that the Afters are a pretty good rock band, with a dash of pop punk thrown in for good measure. “Until the World” and “All That I Am” do nothing to take away from this description.
“You” and “Wait,” however, remind us that CCM is still trying to be all things to all markets, ensuring that they will get played on adult contemporary radio, the largest market of the genre.
Still, though, The Afters’ first widespread release will appeal to a lot of people. Power pop with a slight rock edge, it is perhaps the best debut album in Christian pop circles since the Elms.
Brian A. Smith
There is a great deal of pressure on any group that is signed to INO Records. After all, this is the label of MercyMe, a group that enjoyed tremendous success a few years ago with their hit, "I Can Only Imagine." MercyMe hasn't had another hit on that level but they have still had a good bit of success. Any group signed to INO has to live in that shadow.
On I Wish We All Could Win The Afters show that they can hold their own with about any group in CCM today.
The album starts off with some nice guitars that don't quite get things rockin' but still set the stage for an interesting mid-tempo song. This track is made even more enjoyable by the vocals which have a unique sound to them. The second track, "Until the World" starts off sounding like a rock song, but slows down into another mid-tempo song. Things pick back up for the chorus which has the hardest rock sound yet on this album. The second verse continues with a tempo faster than the first. The project slows back down for "Someday" which starts off slow but has its faster moments. Those faster moments make the listener wish that the group would just break loose with one song that was full on rock since the group does so well at it. Instead the listener is treated to two straight ballads, "Love Leads Me On" and "All That I Am". These songs are quite enjoyable and some of the best rock ballads of the year but listeners are still left wishing for the group to just let loose and rock. "The Way You Are" picks things back up and may be one of the most rockin' tracks on the CD. The group dabbles with worship on "You" which could find its way into the praise and worship times of many youth groups.
The group is one of the best to debut this year. They excel at mid-tempo rock and their ballads are quite enjoyable. They even offer a solid worship track that rock fans will enjoy. Some listeners will be left wishing that the group would have included a full-on rock song or two. Even without those songs, this album is still a solid debut from a group that people need to pay attention to.
Burton Wray May 12, 2005