Friday, October 30, 2009

We're Awakening and Land of Broken Hearts Collab: "Hello Hurricane" Review Part 4

Here is part 4 of the We're Awakening/LOBH tag-team "Hello Hurricane" review. For Part 1, go here, for Part 2, go here, for Part 3, go here.


"Hello Hurricane" (4/5)

The title track will always be a sentimental favorite, since it was the very first finished material any one of us heard from the new record. (Remember when the guys played it over the PA system after the Visalia show?) When I first heard it earlier this year, I was struck by the seemingly contradictory energy and laid-back feel of the song –– it felt both intense and brooding, yet bright, hopeful, and relaxed. Credit the surfer boys from San Diego for pulling this off.

The song is melodic. The oohs during the intro are echoey and expansive; the verse's melodies are enthralling and engaging. Jon's vocals are complimented very well by Tim's steady baseline and Chad's peppy drumming. The mandolin during the intro doesn't sound as campy as the idea would suggest.

It all fits together in a nice, well-written piece of pop rock. It has the indie rock feel, particularly with the oooo's at the beginning of the song, but preserves a very accessible sensibility as well. It's messages of hope against the storms of life are universal – this is the most straight-forwardly positive song on the record, in the exact same vein as "Meant to Live."

"Hello Hurricane, you're not enough… you can't silence my love."

"Always" (3.5/5 [Album Version])) (4.5/5 [Radio Edit])

(Album Version)

This is the part of the album that left me scratching my head. Where did the boys go wrong on this one? It's arguably, potentially, one of their most moving songs on this album, but it doesn't quite reach the apex. This one felt tragically unfinished, and it feels like it was put together rather haphazardly. It has its high points though, no doubt.

The bridge still sounds just as incredible as it did in the preview clips from tour. My only gripe is that Chad's drumming, while just as solid as ever, sounded underproduced and undermixed. If there's a way to sum this song up in one concise statement, it'd be that this song sounds like an unfinished demo with mad potential.

(Radio Edit)

Now, I'm sure the guys recognized these issues in post-production, so they signed on with Rob Cavallo to re-work the tune and prepare it for radio. The results are nothing short of extraordinary.

Where the album version failed, this radio edit succeeded big time. Cavallo helped Switchfoot by first putting a glossy sheen over top of the entire song, smoothening out the rough edges and taking care of the rawness that shouldn't necessarily find a place on a song like this. Additional instrumentation overall gave this song a more finished, produced feel. For that alone, this song makes a jump on the quality scale.

What really made this song is the brand new instrumental interlude before the bridge, where Cavallo's years with Green Day seem to come through. It has a sweet, simple guitar solo that gives the impression of space for the electric guitar, yet doesn't come across as overbearing or intrusive to the mood of the song. In fact, the mood is enhanced by it. Another pleasant and welcome surprise is the addition of harmonies from the "hallelujah's" on towards the end of the song.

For this, I consider the song's potential realized. Will it make it onto final copies of "Hello Hurricane?" I hope so, but doubt it. It would be a tragedy if this version isn't released for purchase in one form or another.


Hello Hurricane - 4 out of 5

I have a slightly bipolar relationship with this song. First I love it. Then I think it's bland. Then I think I was too harsh and I love it again. Then I think I wasn't that harsh at all and it really IS kind of bland. Then I love it again.

I guess I'll just say that while I'm not sold on this song, I have a feeling it might be a "grower" - one of those tunes that you start out not being fond of, but 2 months down the road, it's your favorite track on the album. 

Hello Hurricane is a very lighthearted, strong song with a punchy beat and a great drive. I love the defiance of the lyrics... "Hello Hurricane, you're not enough! Hello hurricane, you can't silence my love." It's a very honest song; straightforward without many hidden meanings. It's bold and brash and above all, encouraging. The message of standing strong is beautiful expressed. "I'm a fighter fighting for control, I'm a fighter fighting for my soul, everything inside of me surrenders, you can't silence my love."

On another note, I absolutely dig Tim's backing vocals during the final chorus. 
Overall, it's a great tune, and I think I'll be blaring this one in the car with the windows down. 

Always - 3.5/4 out of 5

Always. I'm so torn when it comes to this song. I had a really hard time deciding what to rate this tune, partially because I hate rating any Switchfoot song less that 4.5 stars (I'm biased. I know it. I freely admit to it.) and partly because I feel the bridge is this song's salvation. 

So what's my "issue" with this song? Let me ask you a question first... do you ever get that feeling where you know something is missing but you just can't put your finger on it? That's my problem here. This song has so much potential it's insane... and yet... the song never seems to take off. It frustrates me because I do truly love this song and I feel like it has the potential to be heartbreakingly epic. But it never seems to reach that climatic moment.

However, on the plus side, the lyrics are incredibly heartfelt. "These are the scars deep in your heart, this is the place you were born. And this is the hole, where most of your soul comes ripping out from the places you've been torn." Words like that need a lush, full background to underscore their power. 

I can't say enough about the bridge. The emotive force with which Jon's cries out "Hallelujah! I'm caving in! Hallelujah! I'm in love again! Hallelujah! I'm a wretched man. Hallelujah! Every breath is a second chance! And it is always, always yours!" is absolutely breathtaking. And just when you think it can't get more beautiful... a chorus of "Always" take over the background in a beautiful melody. I can easily see the crowd joining in on that part at concerts, singing at the top of their lungs.
Now, I'm not going to review the radio edit, but I WILL say this... I feel like it fixed all the issues that I had with the album version and I sincerely hope it somehow BECOMES the new album version. 

Though I would like it if they left the whimsical exchange between the Brothers Foreman at the end of the studio version of the song. Tim: "Eheheh! You can't do spanish." Jon: *chortle* "I think it's Italian."

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