CD Review: Hawthorne Heights – “The Silence In Black and White”

What the fuck is up with poppy music becoming a bad thing in the punk scene? You’d think a band would be happy to be melodic and catchy, and kinda-sorta mellow. But no, they have to be hard and heavy, and completely screw up what could be a good record.

Hawthorne Heights could be a very good mellow, poppy indie band. However, those bands (with the exception of Death Cab For Cutie and a few others) don’t get into rotation on regular radio stations. So, they have to be slightly heavy and angsty.

Basically, what that means is this: you take a typical, run-of-the-mill indie rock release and add in a screamer. Everyone is credited in the liner notes with “vocals.” Someone needs to be credited as “asinine jackhole who ruins perfectly good songs by screaming instead of actually singing.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I like bands like Poison the Well, Atreyu, and Thursday. However, these bands are unequivocally HEAVY. They have breakdowns, they rock, and are music to which you can headbang. Hawthorne Heights, on the other hand, is band that (were it not for the fucking random shrieks) is much more suited to shoegazing and mild head nodding at best.

The Silence In Black and White is not an anomaly, unfortunately. I could stand with it being the only example of its kind. The sad fact of the matter is that Hawthorne Heights is not alone in its need to add some hardcore cred to an otherwise poppy sound. See, even New Found Glory has gotten into the act, and you can hear it on their new single, “All Downhill From Here.” Listen closely, and you can hear screaming in what is otherwise a perfectly normal pop-punk song.

Dammit. This could be a really good record. And even if it wasn’t above average, it’d still at least be good. This, sadly, is an exercise in annoyance. Maybe if someone on the ‘Net gets clever and removes the screams and returns it to normalcy, I’d be able to listen to it again. As it is, I’m not even going to sell it to the record shop down the street. I’d be too afraid that someone else out there might actually buy it.

Victory Records
Hawthorne Heights

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