Review Summary: Mediocre music, laughable lyrics and slightly high-pitched vocals – yep, it’s another bad pop punk band.
Hawk Nelson is a pop punk four-piece from Ontario, Canada. In 2004 they released their debut album, Letters to the President, on Tooth and Nail Records. It was soon a big success in the Christian music market and being a regular churchgoing Christian, nearly all my friends were soon singing their songs and talking about how great they are. I took a listen and was completely in the dark as to how this band enjoyed so much success.
The first problem comes from the blond haired frontman, Jason Dunn. His voice is slightly high pitched and quite often nasally – something we hear a lot in the pop punk scene. Most of the time it’s actually pretty tolerable, and there are quite a few great bands whose singers aren’t really that great – AC/DC for example. But the reason we listen to those bands is because the music behind the vocals is good.
Not so with Hawk Nelson. All of the music here has been done a hundred times before, and probably a hundred times better by some. Most of the guitar parts consist of power chords or fairly simple riffs. The intro to Things We Go Through
is an attempt at an interesting fast riff, but even I can play it with ease. (I say that as a guitarist who has a hard time including the palm muting when I play, say, Killswitch Engage, and can’t play most good solos. Yes, you might say I suck.) There are three solos present, but two of them are simply the equivalent of vocal parts on guitar, and the third one – from the 50 second instrumental Recess
– is just a bunch of bended notes that seems to be an attempt at sounding impressive.
As for the drums: pretty much the same story. Nothing that I haven’t heard from the average band, and am willing to bet most drummers could play with little difficulty. And the bass? As with most music, I don’t really pay attention to it or really care that much. But even if their bassist was amazing, it’s hard to see how it could possibly make any difference.
If someone looks at the insert, they’ll see that Trevor McNevan (the vocalist and studio guitarist for Thousand Foot Krutch) co-wrote and co-produced this album. (He also does guest vocals on Like a Racecar
) Trevor’s band TFK is at times pretty good, but his pop punk efforts are pretty horrible. (He also has a side project called FM Static, which is probably worse than this)
The last bad thing about Hawk Nelson is the lyrics. Sometimes all right, but at times completely laughable. One really hopes they aren’t meant to be taken seriously, because when Jason attempts to write about something important, his horrible lyrics prevent the listener from doing so. This is shown best on part of the chorus for Things We Go Through
“Wake up everyone around you
Let’s rock until the clock strikes two
Stand up for what you believe and shout to
Here’s another song from the youth that’s around you”
The title track is another attempt at tackling a serious subject, but once again it’s hurt by his nonsensical lyrics:
“If I was braver I’d write a letter to the president
And have him pass it to the leaders of our parliament”
What country is he talking about? Certainly not the US, Canada, or Great Britain – none of them have a president and parliament. Maybe I’m just nitpicking here. Or maybe he’s saying the US president would pass it on to the Canadian parliament. In any case, the lyrics on this album are never good and usually bad.
Is there anything good about this album? Well maybe it’s that at times you might forget all the flaws with the music. Several of the songs are quite catchy – but heck, Ashley Simpson can make her songs catchy.
And if you’re wondering if they’re sophomore album is any better, most people I talk to and reviews I read say no. It’s worse.