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Review

Hawthorne Heights experiments with new album ‘Fragile Future’

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October 30, 2008

When Ohio quintet Hawthorne Heights suffered the loss of Casey Calvert in late 2007, the band had to overcome much more than the lost physical presence of a fifth member, but even more, the loss of a foundational friend. After a six-month hiatus, the quartet is back with their third studio album entitled, “Fragile Future.”

  You will notice almost immediately a completely different song format from their previous albums.  This album is much more experimental than anything they’ve done before.  Foreign instruments such as organs, keyboards and various strings were explored for this album. “Fragile Future” possesses an overly heavy pop feel and, as much as I hate to say it, it’s much more fitting for vocalist JT Woodruff. Although the band has reinvented themselves, it isn’t for the better, nor does it innovate and spark this drowning genre.

  If you’re familiar with Hawthorne Heights’ previous works, “The Silence In Black And White,” and “If Only You Were Lonely,” you’ll notice immediately the lack of Micah Carli’s trademark screaming. If you truly loved the aspect of Micah’s growls and howl, then you will be sorely saddened by the lack there of in Fragile Future. With that said, the screamless album produces a very different feel to a middle of the road, genre confused band.

  The opening track to “The Business of Paper Stars” begins with a heavy rock sort of feel, but quickly fades into everything I hate about pop rock. The transitions to the choruses in each song are laid back and have an overabundance of JT’s lack of testicular fortitude vocal abilities. The second track, “Rescue Me,” is a bland song with repetitious lyrics and everything that the band has been previously criticized for: lyrics that produce a whiney and gloomy twelve-year-old emo feel.

  The album drones on for what felt like an eternity, actually timing out at 43:02. There truly isn’t a track on this album that separates itself from any other. The format becomes predictable and dull. JT’s whiney vocals begin to numb your brain and almost make you want to perform your very own lobotomy in a desperate search for your thalamus.  There is one thing this album doesn’t do and that is absolutely slaughter a horse in regards to songs about the loss of the guitarist. The only track that vocally professes the lost of Calvert is “For Become One”which in all actuality isn’t a bad tune. It’s a rather touching hymn to the former guitarist. If anything, “Fragile Future” further dedicates itself to lyrics plagued with failing relationships and hopeless romanticism. While the album doesn’t get a “C” in my books, I do applaud the band for trying something new instrumentally. The overall feel for the album is bland and boring, but the production is worth a few listens with the creative textures and layered vocals and guitars.

  I guess the death of a member isn’t only needed to revitalize a pathetic effort put forth by this predictable now pop quartet. I miss Casey Calvert, for the sole fact he was the only one in this band who truly possessed any ounce of musical talent.

Erik Wood is a student at UW-River Falls.