Review || Hawthorne Heights - "Bad Frequencies"

Hawthorne Heights, an alternative rock band from Ohio in hibernation since 2015, turned the lights back on and released their sixth LP Bad Frequencies through Pure Noise Records on April 27th of 2018.  

I was never into the “emo” shift that overtook the broad rock genre in the 2000 - 2006 time frame, with the exception of AFI. I think I used “with the exception of AFI” a lot back then; definitely not anymore though. I digress. Hawthorne Heights was an emo band with slight touches of screamo vocals and breakdowns in the music and I was never a big fan. Over ten years later, I was really surprised when I was asked to review their new record, "Bad Frequencies", released on none other than Pure Noise Records, my favorite contemporary record label.
The band has been through a lot of ups and downs in their career; from reaching significant stardom and playing stadium shows and tours to pivotal members passing away or simply (and thankfully) passing on, time has had an audible and visible impact on Hawthorne Heights today. No more sloppy but groomed hair over the face, no more white outfits and paraphernalia, no more sad expressions and unending minor chords and arrangements. "Bad Frequencies" is still a little bit emotional and - again surprisingly - a little bit screamo but in essence it is a pop rock record with catchy choruses on repeat. JT Woodruff (lead vocals/rhythm guitar) has his front-man suit on and he wears it well but being almost the only original member still in the band I sensed that the musical parts and the general creativity of Hawthorne Heights are elements that have been left in the background. I hear a lot of recurring ideas and structures and I don’t hear a lot of effort put into guitar riffing and groovy drum parts. The word generic comes to mind a lot. 

I preferred the past “big” sound of the production but have to admit that this sound suits the music being played and in contrast I do prefer the general aesthetic Hawthorne Heights have chosen to be characterized by now. I did like “In Gloom”, “The Perfect Way to Fall Apart”, the title track and “Push Me Away” - favorite song on the record. Not much else. 

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