Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN - 13/3
Half Hearted Hero
Written by: PP on 27/12/2016 22:58:55
Our series of looking back at under-the-radar releases of 2016 continues with a review of Half Hearted Hero's third album "Isn't Real". This is a band that has been criminally underrated throughout their career, from their high-octane skate punk origins on "Running Water" EP and the slightly more nuanced version of the same on "Defining Refining" to the revitalizing evolution on "Whatever", which transitioned the band away from lightning speed punk rock into something more akin to Polar Bear Club's depth-laden, roared anthem punk rock or whatever you want to call it. "Whatever" was one of the highlight releases of 2013, yet it was strangely overlooked by most, a storyline that appears to continue with the equally powerful "Isn't Real" for some reason half a year separated from its release.
"Sometimes Things Just Disappear", to quote Polar Bear Club, who are the main reference point throughout the record. Vocalist Anthony Savino's performance is nothing short of awe-inspiring, throwing just the right amount of gravelly roar to his anthemic expression, where melodies travel up and down the scale, drawing parallels to the likes of Anthony Raneri (Bayside) and Tom May/Greg Barnett (The Menzingers) in the process. The resulting songs are wallowing in emotional charge and strained delivery, yet defined by their depth-laden approach and a raw, heartfelt purpose that captivates the listener throughout. The overall soundscape has been mellowed down ever-so-slightly, exposing the band's emotive melodies to a far wider audience than before. "All Of Me" is an example that borrows heavily from later Polar Bear Club material, as does album highlight "Invisible City", whereas "Throw it Away" leans more on Bayside style alternative rock with emo undertones attached.
But despite the anthemic nature of the songs, there's an introspective feel to the whole record, which together with the gritty vocal delivery and purposefully rough production gives it a boatload of charisma to play around with. The songs are edgy and distressed, but stay memorable throughout and offer multiple layers of depth to discover. On first listen, the honest and raw vocals lure you in, but it is the subtle variation in structure and melody lines that makes the record one of the truly underrated gems of 2016. How Half Hearted Hero can continue to avoid discovery by the public at large baffles me, especially considering their frightening consistency so far.
Download: Invisible City, Throw It Away, Dreams, Missing Something,
For the fans of: Bayside, Title Fight, The Menzingers, Polar Bear Club, Basement
Release date 27.05.2016
Animal Style Records