Sound — 7
Voted Favorite New Artist by CCM Magazine in their February 2006 Reader's Choice Awards, awarded Best Artist from Ignite Your Faith Magazine's Golden Ears Awards, and winning Modern Rock/Alternative Album of the Year from GMA Canada Covenant Awards for their second record Smile, It's The End Of The World, Canadian quartet Hawk Nelson had a lot to live up to for their third official full length. In terms of sound progression, there isn't really a difference between Smile, It's The End Of The World and Hawk Nelson Is My Friend. In fact, Hawk Nelson still maintain their poppy, audience-appealing sound on their third release, although they do sometimes delve into slightly heavier riffs (in a pop rock sense) on songs such as You Have What I Need. Elsewhere, the song Turn It On could be described as having a main riff resulting from a one night stand between the sounds of Rage Against The Machine and Blink-182, whilst Let's Dance has a somewhat Head Automatica-esque groove to it. The album balances out this new found heavy-riffed pop-rock with a required dose of slow meaningful songs such as Somebody Else, Not the Same and album closer I Still Miss You. Up to this point you may be asking Where are all the happy-go-lucky tracks that Hawk Nelson are famed for? Well, you're in luck as although the new album has doses off heavy and slow pop-rockiness, it also contains the chewy bubble-gum pop rock that pop fans expect, in the form of new single Friend Like That, Ancient History and Just Like That. These songs are sure to get you jumping and singing along in no time. If not, then buy yourself a new pair of ears you deaf muppet.
Lyrics — 5
The lyrics are as expected from any pop-rock or pop-punk album: filled with crap rhyming schemes and songs about failed love and rejection. But who says that lyrics have to be complicated and sophisticated? Ever heard of the saying less is more? This is exactly what is going on with Hawk Nelson Is My Friend. Let's be honest, Hawk Nelson are not renowned for their amazing rhyme schemes and classy lyrics, and that is fine because people don't expect it from them. Most of the time people listen to these pop-rock and pop-punk bands for their no-bullshit, straight-to-the-point lyrics, and for their happy feel-good instrumentals. What's the use in listening to a song and having to decipher lyrics that might as well be written in another language? The great thing about Hawk Nelson's lyrics is that they cut out the crappy cryptic Fall Out Boy-esque lyrics, and hit home with simple and identifiable ones. For example the song Just Like Me sings of how people bitch behind each other's backs, how everyone in nature is 'just like me', and how we should all try to be better people: 'You're just like me; I talk behind your back; From this confidence I lack; Now is the time to make things right; Yeah you're just like me' It is fairly obvious just by looking at the lyrics what the song is about, which is inevitably what you want in a song. Another track written in this style would be Ancient History with the lyrics: 'She don't want anything other than; She don't need anyone other than; She don't see anyone but herself; Herself' which, if you listened to the song the whole way through, is obviously about terminating a relationship with a girl who only cares for herself.
Overall Impression — 6
Overall, Hawk Nelson Is My Friend is a solid pop-rock record. It has catchy songs, great vocals, and lyrics that are able to connect with many people on various levels. Hawk Nelson's third offering is one that is sure to satisfy existing and new fans alike. Whether the songs on Hawk Nelson Is My Friend will live up to the expectations set by the hit singles Bring 'Em Out from the 2005 motion picture Yours, Mine, and Ours, and Letters To The President favorite Every Little Thing, well, only time can tell. What is for certain is that unless you're over thirty-five, there is no feasible excuse not to give this record at least one listen through. Although if you're the kind of person whose hobbies include standing in front of a mirror wearing only Y-fronts trying to see if you really can knock yourself out by starving your brain of blood through flexing your muscles, you are excused as you should probably get yourself to a mental asylum as soon as possible.