Hawthorne Heights
Fragile Future


2.5
average

Review

by David James Young USER (181 Reviews)
August 9th, 2008 | 28 replies | 11,879 views


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A band in mourning do their very best to move on with underwhelming third album.

2 of 2 thought this review was well written

”Our hearts are heavy and light. We laugh, and scream, and sing. Our hearts are heavy and light.

In loving memory of Casey Calvert”


With this, Hawthorne Heights signed off to their guitarist/screamer (who passed away not even a year ago, last November) and progressed into 2008 as a quartet. Much like Drowning Pool, Bayside and the Red Shore, the band have simply refused to let the adversity of a bandmate’s tragic death halt their productivity entirely. Whilst this is certainly an admirable feat on Hawthorne Heights’ behalf, the argument here is whether the band’s latest- their third studio release and first without Calvert, Fragile Future- is a worthwhile progression. Honestly, it’s hard to say- at times, the band present a sound that is well-executed and catchy, whilst at others it feels as if the band are simply putting on a brave face, forcing the music when, really, they are completely lost.

With some of the main elements of the Hawthorne Heights sound gone (the triple guitar and harsh vocals), it is evident from the get-go that the band are seeking desperately to keep the fire alight by make something new of what is left. This, in turn, is a double edged sword- they certainly make attempts at adding new elements to the songs, which work in the songs' favour; yet they do so on hesitant, unsteady footing. “Until the Judgement Day”, as an example, features a warbling keyboard line that could carry the song, and a piano break that could have progressed the song to an entirely different level altogether. However, they are nothing more than cameo appearances in the song, as the all-too-familiar rock song formula takes the steering wheel. Some of it pays off, however. “Disaster” sees the band emphasise drum machine, piano and strings and mixes them with their regular set of instruments interestingly enough. “Sugar in the Engine”, too, features the two guitars at their softest (acoustic chord progressions in the introduction and quaint finger-picking in the outro), juxtaposed with their loudest (heavy metal styled guitar crunch in addition to twin guitar harmonics). Tracks in this fashion, however, are just too seldom present on the record.

Closing track “Come Back Home” features a reprise, revealing itself to be an orchestral rendition of the chorus to “This is Who We Are”. Interestingly enough, if this album is correctly placed in iTunes, this reprise will end and lead the listener right into that exact song, from 2006’s If Only You Were Lonely. In a way, this is a reflection of the band’s current status- back to square one. The focus here is on what the band are familiar with, except with the rough edges smoothed out in a Jimmy Eat World-style. This watering down can be traced to the central focus on lead singer/guitarist JT Woodruff’s vocals- now with only self-harmonising overdubs to assist him, his Pierre-Bouvier-with-balls shtick gets to the point of irritation at a much quicker pace than normal.

Hawthorne Heights are not exactly known for their way with words - they are best known for the oft misinterpreted “cut my wrists and black my eyes” (a metaphor, they insist to this day). Three albums in, this still hasn’t changed much- obvious rhyming couplets such as “come back home/you’re all alone” and “Rescue me/from everything” continue to plague the songs, no matter how catchy they sound. Subtlety also takes a running jump out the window, notably on the all-too-obvious “Four Become One”. What is meant to be a heartfelt tribute to their lost bandmate turns particularly sour with ridiculously palpable lyrics like “Five become four/and four become one” and “We only cried but once/You made us laugh”. There is no question of the band’s sincerity, but it’s a little upsetting that this is the very best they could come up with for Casey. The spoken word outro of “Sugar in the Engine” is also intended to be another eulogy. Such a shame that emotionless, droning repetition of “I would have said goodbye/I would have said I loved you” stumps the message almost completely.

“As we pull ourselves together/we can’t help but be torn apart”, sighs Woodruff in “Four Become One”. Sadly, he most likely won’t realise how apt this is- Hawthorne Heights have given us a rushed release, in an attempt to defy the odds and move on- admirable, certainly, but quite evidently too soon. In the midst of their distress, they have surprisingly not released their worst record yet. Having said that, the band could go one of two ways from this point. They could bridge the gap into the next stage of the music of Hawthorne Heights, making a sound that is better than ever; or this could very well signal the end of the band completely. Whilst many of the band’s detractors will hope and pray for the latter, the former is still a viable option. After all, isn’t that what Casey would have wanted?



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user ratings (201)
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other reviews of this album
Dr Dave De Sylvia STAFF (1)
Robbed of their most distinctive performer, Hawthorne Heights no longer stand out from a swathe of e...


Comments:Add a Comment 
foreverendeared
August 9th 2008



14678 Comments


good review and a somber album that i will be avoiding

Willie
Moderator
August 9th 2008



15774 Comments


Great review. I bought their first two and they were semi-enjoyable, but I think I'm done with this band.

Digging: Teramaze - Esoteric Symbolism

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
August 9th 2008



15693 Comments


I was gonna review this but I couldn't force myself to review Black Kids and then Hawthorne Heights it would just be too painful. Not interested at all.

The Jungler
August 9th 2008



4827 Comments


stopped reading when i saw that you called this underwhelming but still rated it higher than Circle Takes the Square.

The Jungler
August 9th 2008



4827 Comments


in this review, you do not justify giving this album a 3 at all. you focus heavily on their guitarist's death (understandable, but still) and don't really talk about the music or the quality of the music much. there is a paragraph poor lyrics (negative), how the band is watered down and back to square one (negative?) and how the attempts at variety don't work well (negative).

outside of saying it isn't their worst record, you don't really talk about what you find good in the album. and because Hawthorne Heights are disliked on this website, and you seem to like them, you sort of need to do that.

edit: didn't notice you said well-executed and catchy. still, that's just one typo-ed sentence in an entire review.This Message Edited On 08.09.08

parvenu
August 9th 2008



19 Comments


yeah but their guitarist died!

Willie
Moderator
August 9th 2008



15774 Comments


I don't see the problem with him focusing heavily on the guitar player's death if it had a huge influence on the direction and sound of this album. I haven't heard it, but according to this review it did have a huge impact.

zulop
August 9th 2008



155 Comments


Good review, terrible band

ToWhatEnd
August 9th 2008



3172 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah I do agree with your rating but zee Jungler is right, this review does not read like a 3. I'll probably be submitting my review of this later in the week.

HispanicImpressions
August 9th 2008



121 Comments


Good review

Apparently the guitarist died!

AtavanHalen
August 9th 2008



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Hey Jungler, fair calls. I guess I've always been a bit of a Hawthorne Heights fan. The reason I've given this a three is because the same-y songs on here aren't necessarily bad. They're just not as good as they could be. The songs that show some progression as well, like "Sugar in the Engine" are actually really good, too. Like I said, this could go one of two ways from this point.
Thanks for checking this review out. I can't believe another Dave did the exact same thing within hours of mine!

brandtweathers
August 9th 2008



2009 Comments


There is no question of the band’s sincerity, but it’s a little upsetting that this is the very best they could come up with for Casey


this could very well signal the end of the band completely. Whilst many of the band’s detractors will hope and pray for the latter, the former is still a viable option. After all, isn’t that what Casey would have wanted?


really enjoyed the review but this stuff is crossing something


AtavanHalen
August 9th 2008



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Are you saying that the two paragraphs contradict one another?

brandtweathers
August 9th 2008



2009 Comments


absolutely not. just felt like the first was a bit questionable and the second presumptive.
from a humanist stance, in addition

AtavanHalen
August 9th 2008



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

First one: You have to hear the song to understand.
Second one: I'm positive Casey would have wanted the band to continue on.

brandtweathers
August 9th 2008



2009 Comments


first one: i have
second one: read it wrong and thought it was saying the opposite. you and dave are correct

chickenfish
August 9th 2008



1008 Comments


You know what I think is pathetic and gay, when people speculate what Casey would say.

brandtweathers
August 9th 2008



2009 Comments


ahhhh here comes dr chickfish. i fuggin love your cynical input each time

AtavanHalen
August 9th 2008



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

S'all good, I don't really take Chickenfish seriously anyway.

brandtweathers
August 9th 2008



2009 Comments


hahahahaha wrong
if this was an underoath sitch then that wouldve been epic



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