Hawthorne Heights
Fragile Future


1.0
awful

Review

by Dr Dave De Sylvia STAFF
August 9th, 2008 | 102 replies | 21,329 views


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Robbed of their most distinctive performer, Hawthorne Heights no longer stand out from a swathe of emo pretenders.

By the close of 2006, Ohio pop punkers Hawthorne Heights were firmly ensconced as one of rock’s most successful acts, commanding platinum album sales when such achievements were becoming an increasing rarity, especially for groups who don’t openly flaunt stadium rock pretensions. Their second release on Victory Records, If Only You Were Lonely, was a remarkable development on their promising debut, marking them out as the rare type of band that could convincingly carry heavy music beyond its core audience to pop and non-rock audiences. More importantly, frontman JJ Woodruff had always seemed a little too self-aware to fully believe in his own lyrics- some saving grace when they include such crazy inane shit as “so cut my wrists and black my eyes / so I can fall asleep tonight or die.”

Yet the premature death of guitarist/screamer Casey Calvert last November- not to an act of self-abuse but a tragic mix-up that led him to take a lethal mixture of depression medication and pain pills- has upset the apple cart significantly. In choosing to continue as a four-piece, the band sacrificed two of their defining features: Calvert’s distinctive screeched accompaniment and the muscularity his third guitar added to their frequent crescendos. On the other hand, Woodruff’s pining love songs always seemed like they were addressing a dead lover rather than the alive kind. If any band in the public were to convincingly deal with the death of a bandmate through musical catharsis, Hawthorne Heights had a better chance than most.

Unfortunately, with Fragile Future, Hawthorne Heights start awkwardly and never really find their feet. Opener ‘The Business Of Paper Stars’ begins with swirling backwards guitars, one of several psychedelic side-notes littered between the album’s 12 tracks, and immediately showcases the band’s changed emphasis. In place of the rapidfire riffing of previous efforts, ‘The Business Of Paper Stars’ builds at half-speed, calling to mind momentarily the behind-the-beat hard rock of Avenged Sevenfold, before resolving to familiar power pop territory. ‘Sugar In The Engine’ picks up with a sweet, bluesy acoustic guitar refrain and swirling synths, while a crackled mellotron break is tacked on to the end of ‘Until The Judgement Day.’ In both cases, the coda is more interesting than the actual song it bookends, yet Hawthorne Heights make no effort to incorporate these more diverse elements in to the songs proper. The result is predictable: robbed of their most distinctive performer, and with no superior songwriting to differentiate them, Hawthorne Heights no longer stand out from a swathe of emo pretenders.

In the chorus of ‘The Business Of Paper Stars,’ Woodruff sings triumphantly, nonsensically, “save yourself from everything that you have learned / save yourself from all the trust that you have earned.” Learned does, indeed, rhyme with earned, but students of English might note that it’s complete fucking gibberish. Astonishingly, the loss of a dear friend appears to have completely paralysed the group’s ability to express loss. It’s sad, but not for the intended reasons. ‘Sugar In The Engine’ grants glimpses of the insight shown on previous records, as Woodruff’s astutely, “you need more than a crucifix to survive.” Yet such examples are few and far between, and when JT sings “this is the sound of desperation / this is the sound of me wearing thin,” it’s hard not to speculate that maybe Fragile Future came a little too soon in Hawthorne Heights’ recovery as a band.



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user ratings (212)
Chart.
2.2
poor
other reviews of this album
David James Young (2.5)
A band in mourning do their very best to move on with underwhelming third album....


Comments:Add a Comment 
brandtweathers
August 9th 2008



2007 Comments


wow dave.
for the first time i completely agree. fantastic review... one of the best of yours ive seen.

great job.

plane
Staff Reviewer
August 9th 2008



6092 Comments


okay, so why is this deserving of a one


brandtweathers
August 9th 2008



2007 Comments


lewis only digs his own reviews. jk. seems that way at times

brandtweathers
August 9th 2008



2007 Comments


he only showed respect.

Yet the premature death of guitarist/screamer Casey Calvert last November- not to an act of self-abuse but a tragic mix-up that led him to take a lethal mixture of depression medication and pain pills- has upset the apple cart significantly.


JimmyPopAli
August 9th 2008



144 Comments


I'm having a hard time believing the annoying screamer was the highlight of the band.

brandtweathers
August 9th 2008



2007 Comments


im having a hard time understanding an individual who lives between islam and the blood hound gang
lifes tough

plane
Staff Reviewer
August 9th 2008



6092 Comments


lewis only digs his own reviews. jk. seems that way at times

I want to know why Dave writes as if this is just bland and not awful, and then sticks the album with a 1. I've seen Dave write before that he gives albums 1 that he finds painful to listen to. This review doesn't convey that at all.

brandtweathers
August 9th 2008



2007 Comments



but seriously
that was aimed and brandnew


ha. what


brandtweathers
August 9th 2008



2007 Comments


lol
fair enough

ninjuice
August 9th 2008



6760 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

okay, so why is this deserving of a one

Exactly what I'm wondering.

brandtweathers
August 9th 2008



2007 Comments



lewis only digs his own reviews. jk. seems that way at times

btw... meant to be non sequitur


botb
August 9th 2008



9630 Comments


Robbed of their most distinctive performer, Hawthorne Heights no longer stand out from a swathe of emo pretenders.

yep, that's pretty much what i was afraid was going to happen.

brandtweathers
August 9th 2008



2007 Comments


i want chan to say 'oh my god' so that ill look like a prophet This Message Edited On 08.09.08

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
August 9th 2008



17920 Comments


oh my god

brandtweathers
August 9th 2008



2007 Comments


same reaction you had towards icp and blood brothers.
ill take the second as a mass compliment

plane
Staff Reviewer
August 9th 2008



6092 Comments


nah don't careThis Message Edited On 08.09.08

brandtweathers
August 9th 2008



2007 Comments


holy crap lewis... where are you from in tejas???

YeahRiight
August 9th 2008



50 Comments


hawthorne heights were always really, really, bad. They have not become horrible just because they lost their screamer.

brandtweathers
August 9th 2008



2007 Comments


^:D

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
August 9th 2008



15728 Comments


yer not ironic or funny

Digging: Alvvays - Alvvays



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