Hawk Nelson is capping off a successful year with a bit of Christmas cheer, rereleasing their successful sophomore album, Smile, It's The End Of The World, with a brand new, never before released Christmas EP. The Gloria EP continues the more matured edge of their pop/punk sound established by Smile... earlier this year to craft two new original Christmas tunes, and offer their own take on a true classic.
For those wondering where the bold faith the band displayed on their debut Letters To The President disappeared to when hearing Smile, It's The End Of The World, a bit of it can be found quite reverently on Gloria. However, the title track is not what one might expect, reworking the famous chorus from "Angels We Have Heard On High" to be about a girl instead. While that might sound irreverent, it's actually quite clever (and smartly placed after the worshipful opener, "Alleluia"), with the lyrics, "Gloria, in excelsis deo," replaced with "Gloria, the girl I want for Christmas," now serving as a plea to Santa. The upbeat and witty title track is followed by "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day," which musically falls in line with their hit single "Everything You Ever Wanted" from Smile, and returns to a more worshipful mindset ("I can I hear Your voice / like the bells on Christmas Day"). But the album's real gem is the band's original, "Alleluia," which borrows lines and titles from popular carols to build sort of a melodic Christmas anthem that leads up to the simple but powerful chorus, "Hear the angels sing... 'Alleluia, Alleluia, Praise the Lord'."
The only problem with Gloria is its length. By the time "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day" fades out, you're left wanting more. Relient K released their similarly-approached Deck The Halls, Bruise Your Hand a few years ago, but included a generous ten tracks on their holiday bonus record. Three tracks just feels more like a tease than anything, and knowing the band covered "Last Christmas" for last year's Happy Christmas Vol. 4 and to notice it isn't included here, just seems to add a bit of insult to injury.
While it may not be the best trio of Christmas songs you'll hear this year, Hawk Nelson has wrapped enough fun and Christmas joy into this little package, creating a wonderful stocking stuffer for the Hawk enthusiast. Depending on the price of the combo (Gloria shrinkwrapped onto select copies of Smile, It's The End Of The World), it may or may not be worth double-dipping just for the EP, but with Christmas on the horizon, I'm sure plenty of Hawk fans may know a few could-be listeners who wouldn't mind owning the extra copy of Smile. But standing alone, Gloria is a nice little way to say, "Smile, it's Christmas time."- Review date: 11/7/06, written by John DiBiase
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