I’ve decided. My first-born male child will be named Family Force Five Langley. Actually, the girl too, if there is one. Why? Because the alternative of naming him Ronald after my grandfather seems too cruel. But also, because I can think of no better way to express the intensity of my love for this album legally. Family Force 5 is not a winner, as far as names go. It suggests James Dobson rockin the mic and DJ Josh McDowell on the decks, which, while an edifying and encouraging idea, does not make me want to get up and dance. But names can be deceptive. Family Force 5 are a one-band force of nature from America’s “dirty dirty South”, who have come to save Christian music from terminal boredom. This is party music, driving with the windows down pumping the stereo music, an essential album for summer.
Playing a style called Crunk Rock, (Crunk is a form of deep-South hip-hop you may recognise from Usher’s “Yeah!”, characterised by slower, chanting choruses aimed to make a club bounce with a powerful attack of the grooves) the Family deliver massive hard-rock guitar riffs, liberally sprinkled with 80s keyboards and drum loops and lovingly kneaded together with hypnotic, funny, stylish lyrics that are a masterclass in cool. Gems include name-checking “footloose” by Kenny Loggins (apparently, “it’s got my head bobbin”), “ugly people, put your hands down!” and the titular genius of “business up front, party at the back”, which refers to the (short-fringe, long-back) mullet haircut worn by many of their Southern contemporaries (“I come from the land where the mullet attacks…”). Within the humour and style is a positive Christian message and a general aesthetic that, while cutting-edge cool, should cause parents no concern.
If you’re looking for introspective celtic meditation music, this may not be exactly the thing you want. But if you want to rock a youth-group, beach-party or frat-house to their very core, or have been fighting the urge to slap Jeremy Camp for being so excruciatingly sincere, you may have found your album here. Buy it for yourself. Buy it for your friends. Buy it for the sake of my children.
Essential download: “Kountry Gentleman”