Beyond Control is only King’s Kaleidoscope’s second full-length record but it doesn’t feel like it. The band released their first EP in 2011 and has been prolific ever since with a solid catalog of live recordings and studio EPs in addition to their two records. Whether its because or in spite of having released the most material out of any of the Gospel Song Union bands, King’s Kaleidoscope also boasts the widest and most diverse musical range. It’s very possible to love one thing they’ve done and hate another. Beyond Control will unify fans of every spectrum of King’s K’s broad past as it hits on all points of their previous work while charting new territory lyrically, musically, and creatively.
Beyond Control is not a worship album. It’s kind of like when a band or artist releases a collection of church songs, except this time a church artist has released a collection of non-church songs. It is basically the opposite of all those Newsboys worship records from the 2000’s.
There is a great amount of depth in the lyrics, born out of personal pain, experience and faith. Any Christian who has followed Jesus for any length of time should find connection points in the themes of faith, doubt, joy and agony.
As I’ve said, I wouldn’t define this as a worship record, in that I haven’t found a song that feels like it would be effective in a congregational context. But this isn’t meant as a slight, every song very much deals with our faith and with the universal human experience of having great belief that is coupled with great doubts. this is very much a gospel record, and I believe I will find encouragement and spiritual uplift during future listens.
This record is definitely a musical step forward for the band. Freed from the inherent constraints of congregational song, the band moves forward in a free stepping way.
For the worship leader, Beyond Control gives us a great example of mixing genres and styles with seeming nonchalance. Fans of pop, hip-hop, rock and classical music will all find connection points with the music, and as our culture becomes more musically diverse, finding ways to have a wider expression of song worship in the church will be part of our challenge. Let Beyond Control be class 101 in the school of successful genre blending.
Fittingly, the newest record from the oldest Gospel Song Union band is the first to feel completely free of their past. It’s the first record not be written or released in the shadow of their former church’s implosion and it shows. Woundedness can feel like a warm blanket that will only suffocate you and drag you down. While some people have chosen to live in the darkness of their hurt and pain, Kings Kaleidoscope hasn’t just seen the light on the other side, they are standing in it. This collection of songs definitely lives in the light, with all the warts, flaws, doubts that the light exposes but also the hope, joy and rejuvenation the light brings.
THAT ONE SONG WITH THAT ONE WORD… or a Tale of Two Versions
I had written 90% of this review when I had a curiosity about something and I typed “King’s Kaleidoscope” into the search bar on AppleMusic. To my surprise, I noticed that there were two versions of Beyond Control, one labeled “Clean” and one labeled “Explict”. The issue seemed to be the albums penultimate song “Prayer”, which was the song that effected me the most from the whole record.
“Prayer” is a conversation between singer Chad Gardner and God, with all of Chad’s fears and doubts in the verses and God’s response in the chorus. The song’s verse includes two fairly major vulgarities, which were not included in the pre-release record sent to the Church Collective. We spoke to Chad on the Church Collective podcast and he shared the story of the song and the process that led to releasing two versions of the record; I would encourage you to listen to the conversation and hear his heart behind the process coming out on Monday.
Editorially, the leadership team here at TCC discussed how to approach the subject. I think its fair to say that all of us were surprised at the lyric and most of us were disappointed or disagreed in some way with the decision. As a pastor, I wouldn’t judge anyone’s honest prayer. As a public speaker, I’m sympathetic in that our language contains fewer and fewer words with weight and gravity that aren’t profanities. Yet I would have counseled the example of Daniel and John: Both men received visions & prophecies of the future and each were told at different points not to write certain things down; in short, not everything the Lord gives us is for the general public.
All that being said, there are much bigger things to worry about than a lyric in one song, especially when I can choose an alternative version. Compared to some of the major life destroying sins we’ve seen over take church leaders. Compared to the theological positions held by certain churches and worship leaders than many, myself included, see as biblically compromising. Getting up in arms about an artistic decision to include a line that I might find inappropriate seems to me a waste of my energy.
So the critique I will offer is this: As is almost always the case, the “clean line” is a better turn of phrase than the “explicit” one.
While we hope to see Kings Kaleidoscope return to worship music at some point, this is a solid, solid record. As I said earlier, it’s a gospel record, which brings joy to the soul as much as it brings the encouragement of knowing we aren’t alone in our doubts. This is exactly the kind of music that “Christian music” should be; its not music made for a faith ghetto, instead it comes as a product of our faith. It is music that comes from genuine artists, but that would never be given play on secular radio or picked up by a secular record label due to subject matter; which to me is what “Christian Music” should be.