The White Album Hillsong United. The lyric may be printed white on white, but the project? It's really pretty good.

The White Album (A Remix Project)
Artist: Hillsong United

The circumstances surrounding the release of Hillsong United's The White Album (A Remix Project), at least the way I encountered it, are curious as its contents are intended to appeal to contemporary mainstream youth tastes: the praise & worship band with a name like a soccer team originating from an Australian authoritarianly-structured word-faith church release a long-player with the same name as the nickname for arguably the thorniest of Beatles albums - or in tribute to certain circuit parties in the homosexual /transgender subculture? - and did so to general (read:non-Christian bookshop) retail on this year's Record Store Day in April, but was apparently available in Christian outlets during the previous month. In both locations, its only configuration is compact disc. For an album of electronic music leaning often as not to danceabilty, might it have made as much sense to release a vinyl version to Record Store Day-participating stores as it did to release the CD to Christian retail? And might it have made sense to also acknowledge whoever was responsible for the remixes therein as well as Hillsong's pastor couple and other church and label administrators?   

And if you aren't already a United diehard with all the previous albums from which the songs given alternate treatments on The White Album and/or sing every song here in your own congregation or youth group, best to you on reading the lyrics in the booklet, in miniscule white font against a background of murky violets and blues as they are. Reading the white-on-near-white text on the jewelbox's back cover may require a booster shot of Vitamin A in order to decipher it as well.

But when it comes down to why anyone would buy White, the music... it's really pretty good. its gamut runs from post-dubstep with more crunch than wobble to glitchy near-a capella and back to straightforward 4/4 pop-house and trance that wouldn't be out of place on a mainstream (i.e. non-Christian) top 40 station's beatmix show, if it weren't for the lyrics, of course. Troubling as a good many of Hillsong's doctrinal stances and media affiliations are, United's writers can come up with some fairly biblically solid songcraft. That is, when it's not so poetic as to become a kind of highfalutin "Jesus is my significant other" fantasia or a mite too self-assuredly anthrocentric. Popular as Hillsong's music is among churches throughout the world, they're far from the only offender in this regard, only one of the most prominent.  

The gals and guys singing it all sound emotive, vulnerable and triumphalist in appropriate measures, their vocals recorded shinily as the synth programming behind them. For all of its unfortunate packaging and the fretful qualities of the Hillsong organization, The White Album achieves the goal of imminently listenable electronically rejiggered praise&worship, suitable for the lifting of one's hands and spirit alternately on the dance floor and chill out lounge, or the church fellowship hall and bedroom.  

The whole of it can be heard here before anyone directs disposable income toward purchasing it:


Jamie Lee Rake