Reviewed by Andrew Midgley
Asian-American rappers CL, J Han, and Sam Ock are AMP, and 'Futuregen' is their third album. Conceived around the theme of empowering the next generation of young Christian disciples, the three Chicagoans' direct lyrics powerfully witness to a positive faith. Each of the 10 tracks here provide empathy and encouragement on a youngster's journey to the Kingdom, helping such to view themselves as part of Christ's marching army: "We will go and show the world we are the future gen!", AMP sing on the title track. Part of the album's scope, too, is to challenge questioning kids on their priorities. "Is it all about a comfy life?" ask the band on album closer "Lead The Way"; an exhortation not to be one of those "people afraid of a bumpy ride." Musically, the album's '90s feel may make it less appealing to teenagers, since only today's parents will remember the kind of synth-pop that roots 'Futuregen' melodies. "Chance"'s chorus mixes Europop with a Backstreet Boys-style vocal, while "Keep Me" brings a PM Dawn reminiscence. Pre-millennial US boy bands are never far from sight here, with Boyz II Men and Jodeci being referenced in sung delivery - while the dance stylings of 2 Unlimited are never far from one's mind. The album's standout track comes when AMP give themselves most fully to this retro vibe, on "Far Greater", a piece of pop euphoria encouraging young people to acknowledge that "we are made to be greater than we know/For into the nations we will go." The song is rife with uplifting ideas about identity - particularly welcome in an age where individualism and independence are over-prized. "We will trust you Lord/Faithful to the end," AMP emphasise. If the young people of your church are looking for worthy aural input, they could do a lot worse than 'Futuregen', even if its musical sensibilities are not quite chart-ready.
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