Hawthorne Heights - If Only You Were Lonely (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Hawthorne Heights

If Only You Were Lonely (2006)


Hawthorne Heights must relinquish their crown of "potentially worst active band" with If Only You Were Lonely, as the Victory Records ambassador has moderately improved enough to nearly dive into a drowning pool of mediocrity like the uninspired bands they so haphazardly ape. It's a rather amazing thing how their sophomore effort and followup to the mind-bogglingly high-selling debut, The Silence in Black and White, has honest spots of musical creativity, but these are high points of a still awfully derivative, lyrically atrocious act relying solely on brainless hooks bordering boring filler.

The first step the band has taken towards originality is their lack of screaming. Granted, whenever that signature tiger yelp roars from the background, it's still quite hilarious (sweet pseudo-breakdown on "Pens and Needles," dudes!), but it's a comedic act not performed as often as on Silence.

Secondly, the guitar work is finally thought-out. The potential of three guitars is never quite taken advantage of, but the band is finally throwing in thoughtful chord changes instead of a constant attack of detuned choruses and ill-advised post-hardcore twinkling (the latter of which still manages to appear in songs like "Language Lessons"). There's nothing amazingly theatrical or virtuous here, but in comparison to Silence it sounds almost Hendrix-esque.

The third improvement is most especially minor. Instead of relying on his emotionless baritone, J.T. Woodruff tends to sing in a more high-pitched, girly whine. He still sounds irritating, but at least there's some umph behind it.

One thing that hasn't changed is Hawthorne Heights' lyrical abilities. The band is still writing diary entries wrapped around nursery rhymes, and like the last record, once again best exemplified by the lead single. "Saying Sorry" offers pathetic lines like "saying goodbye's the hardest part / which we knew this from the start." Even the music industry-referencing "Breathing in Sequence" draws the cringing simile "I wish I could but I know I can't take it back / it's serious, just like heart attacks." This absolute lack of songwriting skill prevents what little enjoyment would be possible from listening.

Hawthorne Heights is no longer the bottom of the barrel laughingstock they once were, but they haven't yet proved to be anything more than pandering, fourth-rate arena screamo supposedly representing "underground" music. Song titles like "We Are So Last Year" and "Where Can I Stab Myself in the Ears" prove the band is well aware they are capable of nothing more than writing flat-sounding but catchy enough radio emo pop songs, and that they are simply a lasting fad who will (hopefully) fail to reach a considerable level of influence on the scene they believe to be dominating.

Saying Sorry