High Production Value + Lackluster Lyrics = Fun Time (While It Lasts)
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Manic Drive Website
- Electric (Featuring Trevor McNevan of Thousand Foot Krutch)
- VIP (Featuring Manwell)
- Street Lights
- King of Mercy
- Good News
- I Hide You Seek
- Song to Sing
Buy the Album
Canadian pop-rock group Manic Drive (brothers Shawn and Michael Cavallo and friend Anthony Moreino) have released their fifth album, VIP. When the record begins, pulsing opening track “Electric” makes it clear the guys have hearts intent on reaching the younger generation. Heavy beats, programmed synth, and guest rap spots from popular Christian colleagues (Trevor McNevan of Thousand Foot Krutch and Manwell of Group 1 Crew) help to keep the sound current, accessible, and danceable. This is a project designed to be a fun, feel-good listening experience. But don’t forget: this is Christian Music, so there is also an underlying message designed to point to the strength and hope found in God’s love.
Some tracks deliver this message more successfully than others. Though their lyrics can fall into cliches, when the guys keep their approach simple, they fare better. For example, upbeat “Street Lights” likens God’s illumination of one’s path during times of doubt to street lights brightening a darkened avenue. Similarly, “Good News” is an energetic, straight ahead number about brimming over with an excitement that can’t be contained — sharing the “good news” of the gospel with the world. Eager to speak a language that is relevant and modern, Manic Drive draws upon worldly imagery and analogies. And sometimes this backfires. When in “VIP,” the group makes membership in the Kingdom of God analogous to the extravagances and luxuries of life as a VIP in the clubbing and music scene, they undercut their message by undervaluing God’s love for us. Interestingly enough, they use similar images to different and better effect with “I Hide You Seek” which shows Heaven and Hollywood are indeed vastly distant realms.
When Manic Drive slows it down with numbers like “King of Mercy” and “Song to Sing,” they sing with an unquestionable earnestness. And these worship driven numbers are as easy to listen to as the more rhythmically aggressive tracks. Indeed, from top to bottom, the album is sonically pleasing and polished with strong production values. However, when one looks past the shiny exterior, the lyrics often leave something to be desired. And, ultimately, it’s this need for deeper, more challenging, more creative songwriting that keeps VIP from being an album that I would return to for repeated listens.
— Dawn Teresa
3 of 5 Hearts. High Production Value + Lackluster Lyrics = Fun Time (While It Lasts).
With their latest effort, VIP, Manic Drive has written and recorded a set of songs that should give listeners a musically good time. Lyrically, though, there isn’t quite enough depth to inspire repeated listens.
Executive Producer: Brad Mathias
Producers: Oh, Hush! and Nick Baumhardt
Players: Shawn Cavallo (vocals, keyboards, and additional programming), Anthony Moreino (drums), Michael Cavallo, Nick Baumhardt, and Oh, Hush! (guitars), Chris Carmichael (strings), Ken Reed/Loren Clark (bass)
**Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): I’d like to thank Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for my review.**