Hawk Nelson Is My Friend
You have to hand it to Hawk Nelson: they stand as a pretty decisive refutation of the commonly held belief that Christian rock necessarily sacrifices hooks, power, or lyrical incisiveness on the altar of religious message. And they also deserve a gold star for deciding not to be coy about their beliefs. They don't hide their devotion behind faux love songs; the love songs are love songs, the kiss-off songs are kiss-off songs, and the songs about Jesus call him "Jesus," not "you." Best of all, their albums are generally free of Stryper-style power ballads, though they do slow things down just a bit from time to time. Hawk Nelson Is My Friend keeps things at a scrappy, rocking tempo most of the time, as you'd expect based on their previous track record; highlights include the snarky but fun "Just Like Me," the perfectly crafted punk-pop gem "Turn It On," and the charmingly goofy "Friend Like That," which acts as the distilled essence of the band's trademark approach: slightly whimsical lyrics, a shout-along chorus, and a song that somehow adds up to more than the sum of its parts. The slower numbers are good but not especially noteworthy, except for the album's closing track, a heartbreakingly sweet tribute to a family member who has passed on. Producer David Bendeth gives this album a slightly richer punchiness than previous efforts have had. Overall, Hawk Nelson Is My Friend stacks up well next to Hawk Nelson's previous efforts, even if it doesn't stand head and shoulders above the best of their earlier work.