Review Summary: Worst friend ever.
In the "Christian" subculture, there seems to be an elite set of pop-punk bands that make suburban pre-teens of conservative Baptist parents feel rocking and rebellious without upsetting their superiors. Naturally, this musical coalition, led by the likes of Relient K and Switchfoot, has spawned a fleet of lesser known but strangely appreciated bands that tap the toes of their target market. Hawk Nelson happens to be one of these bands. Booming power chords, relatively lifeless vocal delivery and laughably terrible lyrics mar the by-now-veterans of Christian pop-punk, who have come only a short way (a journey that can be documented by Steven McMahan) since their Tooth and Nail debut Letters to the President
. With their latest award-winning release (2009 Grammy award winner of Best Recording Package
) Hawk Nelson is My Friend, the quartet further plants their feet deeper into the mud of mediocrity, further satisfying the hungry ears of their brainless fans.
The complete lack of originality and creativity really illustrates that Hawk Nelson have been progressing like snails in molasses; inching forward album by album with little to no improvement and boring instrumentation. While lead vocalist Jason Dunn mundanely mumbles that "I'm not a wannabe, I'm who I want to be" in lead single Friend Like That
, rest assured that everything that happens on the 37 minutes of Is Your Friend
is something you've heard before. Actually, Friend Like That
is a prime example of what's in store during the record: awkward lyrical rhymes with too many syllables sung lifelessly over 1-3-5 power chord choruses and chant vocals. It's not just that Hawk Nelson's latest offering is mundane and unoriginal, it's that it's actually painful
to listen to. Is Your Friend
is so poppy, so sweet and so overwrought with cheesy feel-good lyrics that it manages to do the exact opposite of it's noble intention -- the album is so bland and uninspired that it depresses
me to think that so many eager fans are grabbing this up like sweet manna from heaven. Every song on Is Your Friend
does nothing but fuel the gas tank of immaturity and send it speeding away into a sugary wreckage of kittenish harmonies and angsty clichés.
When trying to think of an example to illustrate these lofty claims of terribleness, every single song on the album comes to mind -- in all honesty, no song is better than another and each song is disappointingly bad. From the "life's super-okay!" message of Let's Dance
to the "life sucks but there's super-hope!" structure of Friend Like That
, each minute of Is Your Friend
tries so hard to make the listener feel better about themselves, which may work brilliantly for your typical pre-pubescent adolescents, but it misses the mark by far when it comes to impressing a casual listener with any semblance of music taste. Naturally, this fault could've been saved by at least tolerable musicianship, but from the yawn-worthy drumming to the been-there-done-that guitar work, nothing new or even appetizing is brought to the table. Ultimately, whether they're explaining the girl-guy dynamic in Ancient History
or portraying teen-angst ("She woke up with a tear-stained pillow, she just broke up with a nice young fellow") in Words We Speak
, Hawk Nelson ultimately fails to back up their music with an ounce of conviction or dedication.
I could go on explaining why Hawk Nelson is a stain on Tooth and Nail's relatively benign roster or why America's consuming youth is completely doomed, but it's fair to say that I've got my point across: this album just isn't worth it. Unless you have an inexplicable hankering for cliches and bland musicianship, I suggest you stray away. For those who were looking to listen to this for a good laugh, trust me, it's not worth it. However, for those looking for a torturous experience of mind-numbing pop-punk, look no further.