Hawthorne Heights

Skeletons

Written by: PP on 07/06/2010 22:08:13

For cliché-obsessed emo rockers Hawthorne Heights, writing albums seems to be a hit-and-miss sort of thing. Debut album "The Silence In Black And White" is a cult emo classic precisely because it is so cliché ("Cut my wrists and black my eyes" *repeat screamed* anyone?), but follow up "This Is Who We Are" was a lame duck, offering next to no longevity nor memorable songs, so a lot of people wrote them off. "Fragile Future" was largely ignored as a result, but upon closer inspection it turned out to be an excellent album because of the band's new direction towards a distinct pop punk base. "Rescue Me" is an absolutely fantastic song, check it out if you haven't yet, and the "Four Become One" track about their old screamer who passed away prior to writing the album is among the most emotionally charged songs they have written. But as it turns out, fourth album "Skeletons" ignores any progression made on the previous album and is, once again, a forgettable album, even if it beats the lackluster "This Is Who We Are" by a long shot.

First of all, the bright pop punk of "Fragile Future" has been shoved aside to make room for a return to the sound of the first two records. We're again firmly rooted in deeply emotional post-hardcore - Armor For Sleep style - and there are even a couple of screams on the record. These are mostly left to the background at odd moments so they don't make much of an impact, but it's worth noting since the band said they'd never use another screamer after Calvert died. Another aspect that you'll remember from the, ahem, old days (2004...) is the ridiculous number of cliché expressions used by JT Woodruff. Gems like "my world is crashing down", "I am your gateway drug", "I pack my bags and never look back", "here's a knife to cut the tension" are liberally applied to the cut-my-wrists-and-black-my-eyes lyrical universe, but then again, the charm of Hawthorne Heights has always been their over-the-top usage of such phrases, one of the main reasons why they have a recognizable identity as opposed to so many other emo groups in the scene.

Musically, "Skeletons" follows mostly "This Is Who We Are" though, with big riffs and anthemic choruses, with a couple of songwriting experiments like the odd "Gravestones", an effort at big-arena type of composition (think "Three Cheers..." by My Chem). But many riffs are too simple and ineffective to make a long term difference, and the choruses just don't last. The guitars aren't as crunchy as on "The Silence..", resonating at a far too polished and overproduced tone to my liking. That said, there are a couple of excellent songs on the album, with "Hollywood And Vine" being hands down the best one. It's here that the band jumps back into a marginally brighter, more pop-punk oriented structure and offers the listener an upbeat tempo. "End Of The Underground" works because it feels like metaphor to the band's Victory Records years, and "Drive" is sooooooooo stereotypically emo that it works like a double-negative and actually becomes a positive. Call it a cheese-fest (to borrow one of TL's favored phrases), but the "if you cut me, I will bleed, just enough to get your attention..." lyric stapled itself permanently into my brain the first time I heard it. But despite these highlights, there are far too many boring and 'standard' moments for me to grade it any higher than a

6

Download: Hollywood And vine, Drive, End Of The Underground
For the fans of: Armor For Sleep, Silverstein, A Thorn For Every Heart, Anberlin
Listen: Myspace

Release date 01.06.2010
Wind-Up Records

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