Hawthorne Heights burst onto the music scene two years ago with their release of “The Silence in Black and White”. With a similar sound to such bands as Taking Back Sunday, Senses Fail, and My Chemical Romance the guys cashed in on the screamcore scene that was forming. With the huge success of their single, “Ohio is For Lovers” not to mention all the nonstop touring with everyone from Spitalfield to Fall Out Boy and appearances on Warped Tour everyone now knows the melodic band from Ohio. This sophomore album is the product of all the hardwork and aspiration the guys put into playing music they are passionate about.
The new album opens with the track, “This is Who We Are”. It opens with a pounding guitar solo before giving way to the soft vocals of JT Woodruff. I have always enjoyed Hawthorne Heights because of the balance between the higher pitched soft vocals of JT and the background screams and this track highlights that superb balance. The next track, “We Are So Last Year” is by far my favorite. The verse is upbeat and the chorus has the most unforgettable lyrics on the album. Woodruff sings, “I just wanted you to know/ I think about you every night/ when I fall asleep/ you were in my dreams/ just like in a movie/ the one you want to see/ with the happy ending.” I also loved the softer sung chorus in the bridge of this one because it drives the lyrical aspects of the song home. The next track, “Language Lessons (5 words or less)” demonstrates Hawthorne Height’s ability to layer its music. With the dual guitar work you can hear the delicate stability between the two. They also work with the background vocals having JT sing the main as well as softer background instead of using the screams. They also have that typical HH sound in the real soft slower bridges. The track “Saying Sorry” was selected as the first single and the video can already be seen on various webpages (AOL music). In the video the guys are wearing white and playing in the clouds as a version of heaven. It’s a pretty trippy rocking video and an excellent pick as the first single. Once again the way the guys turn it from hardrock to soft vocals and the vocal delivery in the chorus makes this song a standout. Woodruff sings, “Saying goodbye/ this time/ the same old story/ seeing you cry/ makes me feel like saying sorry”. They also have the background screams accent the perfect lines to drive home the message. In “Breathing Sequence” the song opens with that all too familiar dark intro before giving way to the dual guitar action and Woodruff’s soothing vocals accenting the verses. The vocal deliver changes so much from the soft first verse to the driving chorus to the fast paced delivery seen in the second verse it constantly kept me on the edge. There is also a very sinister undertone to the whole song that keeps it interesting. Another musical highlight of this record is the song, “Light Sleeper” which opens with that slow moving guitar riff and Woodruff’s comforting vocals before cranking it up and rocking it out. The chorus grabbed my attention and hooked itself in with a great melody and a sensational beat. The song then closes the same way it started very gentle and relaxing. The album closes with the song, “Decembers” which features, believe it or not, a piano and some acoustic guitars. This closing song demonstrates once again how far HH have come since “Silence in Black and White”. Woodruff sings, “You don’t have to speak because/ I can hear your heartbeat/ fluttering like a butterfly/ searching for a drink”. Unquestionably a song like this didn’t appear on the last album and it shows how the guys have made that attempt to grow musically and lyrically.
As I compare “If Only You Were Lonely” to “Silence in Black and White” the immediate thought that comes to mind is that they’ve definitely stuck to their hard rocking roots. In my opinion, however, this album is above and beyond the last album. I found “Silence in Black and White” a little too rough on the ear drums at times. It seemed as if they were just using the throaty screams to add that dimension to their music. On “IOYWL” the screams were only used to accent the message and bring in that added dimension of emotion and angst. Midway through the last album it also seemed like all the songs sort of started to blend into each other while on this album each song stands alone. Hawthorne Heights have definitely progressed musically and lyrically and this album is going to be one of the hardest rocking emotionally driven albums of the year.
1. This is Who We Are
2. We Are So Last Year
3. Language Lessons (5 words or less)
4. Pens and Needles
5. Saying Sorry
6. Dead in the Water
7. I Am on Your Side
8. Breathing in Sequence
9. Light Sleeper
10. Cross Me Off Your List
11. Where Can I Stab Myself in the Ears
“Light Sleeper”, “We Are So Last Year”, “Saying Sorry”