Saturday, October 31, 2009

We're Awakening and Land of Broken Hearts Collab: "Hello Hurricane" Review Part 5

Here is part 5 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, and for part 4, go here.


"Bullet Soul" (3.5/5)

Another solid rocker. It seems a bit misplaced, sandwiched between "Always" and "Yet," but it still doesn't interrupt the flow of the album too badly. The song's electric guitars are even more distorted on the studio cut than they are live.

The song has a solid guitar riff throughout, and the crunchiness of the electric guitars is classic Switchfoot. Lyrically, the song is ambiguous to me. Jon Foreman is also a little vague in his description of the lyrics, saying something along the lines of the fact that our lives are never bulletproof or clean-cut. There are some rough edges and frays. But other than that, I suppose the lyrics are left to the listener's interpretation.

It's an enjoyable song, and, as we have seen by a brief sampling, will translate over to the live stage well. I also predicted it would be on many a sports highlight reel, and it indeed has, being featured on ESPN College football games.

"Yet" (3/5)

Here's a "grower" song. In fact, the rest of the album from here on out will require several listeners to grasp. It will take a lot of people some time to wrap their heads around this one. When I first heard it on a recording of Jon's solo show in UCSD earlier this year, I wasn't impressed in the least. My thoughts ran something like, "Wow… if this is what the new album is going to sound like, I will be sorely disappointed."

But since it was a Switchfoot song after all, I gave it some time, and it really grew on me. The song doesn't require much from the listener besides a chance. I slowly began to really appreciate the lyrics as I listened to it more and more. This is "Hello Hurricane"'s answer to "The Blues," with even the same drum beat and tempo to match.

"If it doesn't break your heart is it love? If it doesn't break your hear it's not enough. It's when you're breaking down, with your insides coming out… it's when you find out what your heart is made of."

^Those are challenging lyrics. Jon and Tim Foreman have formed a habit of challenging people's insides with the words they write. Once listeners begin to grasp the lyrics and the sparseness of this song, it may become a favorite. For me, I will always compare this studio cut to that first raw acoustic version, which is, in my opinion, a much better performance than the studio version. The words seemed to flow a lot better live for some reason. But this song, by no means, can be considered "filler." It fits this album.


Bullet Soul - 4.5 out of 5

Bullet Soul is one of the most energetic tracks on the record, but I feel like where this song REALLY shines is in a live setting - that's when it comes alive and takes on a whole new energy. However, there is much to be said about the studio version. This is one of the "driving" tunes on the record - a full out musical assault. Again, Tim's backing vocals add an extra punch to the song, as does Drew's killer guitar work. I feel like Chad's, Tim's, Drew's and Jerome's contributions are a lot more evident throughout the course of this album, and especially so during this song.

Jon's vocals are also noteworthy, as his voice takes on a smooth, sultry tone during the verses, only to change to a hardened rock growl during the chorus as he screams out, "Are you ready to GO!?"

Lyrically, I don't think this song is as ambiguous as I first thought, though it may take a few listens to understand what Jon is saying. Switchfoot has always said that they make music for "thinking people", and I love that this song is going to force a thought process. Personally, I feel like this song is about attacking apathy and not letting personal fears, trials or pressures hold you back. I think it's a song about not just existing, but LIVING. "You can't stand by forever, you're a kid with the bullet soul, are you ready to go?" Now I haven't discussed this with Jon, so this is just my personal opinion, but I feel like Jon is encouraging those who stand on the sidelines to embrace the life that is within in them - the powerful "bullet" in their soul. "Ooo, I want to turn up the radiation, ooo I want to glow in the dark."

I'd be interested in hearing your guys' thoughts when you hear this song, but for now, that's what this song means to me.

Life is not passive. This song screams that message loud.

Yet - 5 out of 5

I take issue with the people who write off this song as boring. I personally find "Yet" to be one of the most fragile and personal tunes that the guys have ever created. This song is unrestrained with stripped down vulnerability. The quite strength and defiance of this song is evident as Jon sings in the chorus, "But you haven't lost me yet. No you haven't lost me yet. I'll run into my heart caves in. No you haven't lost me yet."

The emotion in Jon's voice is achingly compelling, and it's hard not to feel the pain that must have precipitated the writing of this song. "Yet" also includes some of my favorite lyrics; most notably in the bridge. "If it doesn't break your heart is it love? No if it doesn't break your heart it's not enough. It's when you're breaking down with your insides coming out, that's when you find out what your heart is made of, and you haven't lost me yet." I find the song to be everything you want in a ballad - heartbreaking, sincere, impassioned and stirring.

My only issue with the song has to do with the live version that we hears prior to this release. During the bridge, Jon sang "That's when you find out what your heart is made UP of." It seems ridiculous to nit-pick over a single word, but that "up" added a beautiful, soulful tone to the bridge that is somewhat lacking in the studio recording.

Still, even without the "up", this track is one of my favorites on the album and one of Switchfoot's best ballads.

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