Hawthorne Heights

Fragile Future

Written by: PP on 23/08/2008 03:52:49

Hawthorne Heights need no formal introduction, considering they are probably the most widely known emo band out there. They actually transcend way beyond that, as they're probably going down in history books as the most emo band to have existed on planet earth. And now they've actually got something more emo to write about than broken relationships and shitty lives - the band's core guitarist tragically lost his life whilst on tour; the remaining members found his lifeless body at the tour van just before sound check was about to begin.

As such, much of "Fragile Future" leans heavily on the fact that the band are now four guys instead of five. The slow, ultra-emo ballad "Four Become One" beautifully tells this story speaking volumes of the band's genuine despair: "when five becomes four, and four becomes one, you're not just passing on, you're passing on all the fun we had, you made us laugh, we only cried but once", and that's just the tip of the iceberg. With song titles such as "Desperation" and "Disaster" you have an idea about the lyrical themes this album revolves around.

Vocalist JT Woodruff has always been a masterful author of lyrics that aren't just cliché, but go way beyond that, and are the reason why Threadless had a t-shirt design called "Shakespeare hates your emo poems". But I'd be lying if his heartfelt high-tune delivery wouldn't always have had a certain charm to it, and those who found the "so cut my wrists and black my eyes" lyrics as ironically great as I did, there are plenty more on "Fragile Future": how about "I turn my back and walk away, away from the pain. Screaming loud, drowning out from the sound of the rain", or "All these daggers and these swords can't cut me like the words from your lips" for examples? Admittedly, they seem extremely weak on paper, but when combined with JT's desperate croon, they really do become the best emo poems of this generation.

Instrumentally, "Fragile Future" removes the last bit of -core sound the band had left in them, sadly as a by-product of losing their lead guitarist as mentioned earlier. What's even sadder is that he was the one who did all the heartscraping screams on the band's debut album, and there are indeed places on the record where his now absent voice is dearly missed.

Otherwise, the band fills the void really well. Although the musical landscape has gotten simpler and poppier, the songs have become much catchier and instantly recognizable, and certainly ten times better than anything from their mediocre sophomore album. The first seven songs are all really good, among the best the band has written in fact, ranging from the ultra-catchy "Rescue Me" and "The Business Of Paper Stars" to the lyrically awesome "Until The Judgement Day" and the great ballads, "Sugar In The Engine" being one of them. As such, it's almost as if the album is running on star-power until "231", the first track that fails to grab the listener as enthusiastically as before. The album never fully recovers from there, even if "Let Go Of Everything You Know" is a late highlight.

But that being said, other than "231" there aren't any songs on the album that I'd skip or call particularly bad. I guess the other webzines giving the album low ratings are afraid of losing their credibility, if they end up giving something by Hawthorne Heights a good score. That's not the logic this magazine goes by, and I for one aren't afraid to admit that Hawthorne Heights have really blown me away with "Fragile Future", this coming from the dude who heavily disliked their their sophomore album and gave it a 5.


Download: Rescue Me, Four Become One, Until The Judgement Day
For the fans of: Anberlin, Silverstein, Senses Fail, A Thorn For Every Heart
Listen: Myspace

Release date 08.08.2008
Victory Records

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