Being born again marks a fundamental change in a person’s life. For the Newsboys, the album “Born Again” marks a major shift for the band.

Longtime vocalist Peter Furler stepped back from the spotlight after the band’s last album, “In the Hands of God,” and was replaced by Michael Tait, a former member of the groundbreaking group dc Talk. “Born Again” has been very well received by the fans, who propelled it to No. 4 on Billboard’s overall album chart for the band’s biggest release ever.

The Newsboys’ recent changes are best described in the song “When the Boys Light Up,” which covers the transitions, the struggles and the need to keep a focus on God — all to a fun hip-hop vibe.

But before that, the album launches with a couple of strong rockers. The title track — which rode at No. 1 on the radio play charts for eight weeks — delivers a strong declaration of faith. In “One Shot,” Tait describes his own desire to sing about God’s love but also encourages other believers to speak up and make a difference wherever they live. The album then shifts to pop-oriented praise, with “Way Beyond Myself” and “Impossible” and a few others that are pleasant to listen to but don’t quite have the energy that sparked Newsboys hits of the past.

The album kicks into high gear to close with an assertive new version of the popular praise song “Mighty to Save” and a remake of “Jesus Freak,” the huge hit by dc Talk. For the latter, KJ‑52 serves as the rapper in place of TobyMac. I suspect the song will send concert crowds into a frenzy, but the album version just doesn’t have the same edge as the original.

Children 18:3

Summertime demands fun and Children 18:3 delivers it.

The band’s sophomore release, “Rain’s A Comin’,” explodes with assertive punk chords and beats that rarely diminish in intensity. Even when the tempo does shift a bit, the energy never ebbs.

Once again, brother-sister team David and Lee Marie Hostetter share the vocals while other brother Seth keeps the beat thundering on the drums.

The album opens with a sonic downpour, with the title track issuing a warning about a looming storm, “Cover Your Eyes” expressing defiance and “The Cruel One” offering a blistering punk retelling of “One Hundred and One Dalmatians.” Odd, but terrifically fun.

The gale hits full force with “Hey Driftwood (Tides),” which reflects on relationships and the passage of time.

Aside from some Noah-esque lines in the title track, the lyrics don’t unfold with the same biblical imagery that accented several songs in the self-titled debut.

However, it’s easy to see metaphors for God’s action and presence in many songs.

For example, in the blazing “Oh Bravo,” Lee Marie describes a father’s comforting words in the wake of a disastrous talent show performance.

“Oh Honestly” is a satisfying acoustic interlude that points to something beyond our limited experience. “Wonder I” asks questions about our place in the scheme of things.

“Rains” doesn’t quite recapture the unrestrained fervor and wonderful unpredictability of the Minnesota siblings’ self-title debut. It does reveal a musical and lyrical maturity that makes it a worthy follow-up.

Today’s Praise focuses on the contemporary Christian music industry.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now