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Which brings up a curious point. It would have been nice if Smile offered something of spiritual substance. Oh sure, there are hints, but they're a stretch. "The One Thing I Have Left" makes a statement about maintaining dignity and convictions, but nothing much beyond, "You can't take who I am." We sense much strife in the world through "Is Forever Enough," but the only hope offered never clarifies between the loving comfort of a spouse or a sovereign God: "I know you'll be there whenever I wake up." The focus shifts to teen suicide in "Zero," sharing the painful thoughts and questions left by loved ones in the aftermath, but it merely offers empathy and not answers-perhaps not inappropriately so. And though Dunn says the haunting piano ballad "Fourteen" explains how there's more to look forward to after life on earth, the only hope offered is that "everything is alright."
Make no mistake, Hawk Nelson is well on their way with the infectious rock of Smile, It's the End of the World, seemingly poised to follow in the footsteps of Relient K and MxPx. They've successfully figured out the need to broaden their scope if they want to be regarded as more than a simple punk rock band. But now they need to work on developing lyrical depth, because it just ain't here. If we've learned anything from Relient K and MxPx over the years, you can present clever songwriting that even communicates Christian truths with intelligence to both Christian and secular audiences, and still have fun while doing it. Rather than relish the main course, Hawk Nelson seems like they prefer to skip straight to dessert, which may not be completely satisfying, but it is undeniably tasty.