Although I was a fan of Hawk Nelson, after the band's third album Hawk Nelson… is my Friend, I officially jumped off the band wagon. I was tired of routine pop rock tunes and predictable messages, and assumed that judging by the group's track record for slow improvement, that waiting for a defining album would be well into the future. However, while musical adjustments to some classic Hawk Nelson music on the Summer EP haven't made me reconsider hopping back on the train, it has piqued my interest into what the band will offer on their upcoming album, Live Life Loud.
To appreciate anything that Hawk Nelson has done on the Summer EP, listeners must erase any knowledge of the Dojo Dominating remix of "Let's Dance." An honest attempt to reinvent the fun pop rock tune about rejecting conformity ("I don't want to live, like someone else/ I'm Happy in my skin, bein' myself") falls flat because of a lack of significant beat changes. Instead of changing the structure of the song, it's simply put through a heavy synthesizing process, which does make the remix easier to dance too, but doesn't improve the track in the long run. The energetic and catchy title track of the future Hawk album could be called "California Part 2" only with just a tad less punk influence and a little more refinement.
The second half of the EP shifts gears, and gives fans an 80's feel which is generated mainly in part by the band's cover of "Don't You (Forget About Me)." The cover has a solid pop throwback sound, but the ‘la la's' at the end hamper the music and the lyrics rank just higher than Hawk Nelson's "Someone Else Before." A much better track is the "Meaning of Life" which, on top of lead singer Jason Dunn doing a nice job with the ‘na na's,' uses strong background music to drive the pop rock song. Also, while the song is in the same vein as "Live Life Loud's" theme to ‘scream', ‘shout', and ‘make a difference' while we have the time left in this life, "Meaning of Life" does state its message better: "Lately, I'm tired of the life I'm living/find a way to make a change in the lives all of us who need to find the meaning of life."
Considering the group's reputation, the lack of spiritual matters offered on the EP won't carry over to their upcoming release, but it's hard to tell where exactly the band is going with their music. However, with all the throwback to the 80's and older Hawk Nelson beats, there is currently no indication that whatever the band offers on their fourth project will be fresh and original. But, since the Summer EP is only available at Hawk Nelson shows, it will largely be hardcore Hawk fans who will pick up the EP. And although it will be a pleasant small disc for fans to appreciate, those who enjoy pop punk/pop rock will spend their summer waiting for the full-length release and not regret the decision to pass on this appetizer as they await the main course.- Review date: 7/3/09, written by Nathaniel Schexnayder of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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