Fifth Hour Hero - Not Revenge...Just a Vicious Crush (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Fifth Hour Hero

Not Revenge...Just a Vicious Crush (2006)

No Idea

When I was teaching grade 11 history last year, I tried to incorporate music into every class. I figured it would interest the kids while at the same time give them an idea of the kind of music I listened too when I wasn't tucking in my shirt. I never wanted to be the teacher that tried to look cool, so I considered myself fortunate to like music that the majority of my students really weren't into, although most of them did like music that falls into the ever less-meaningful category of punk rock. On days when I couldn't find a song that somehow fit into what we were doing, I would just turn the stereo on and play whatever I had brought with me for the drive that day until the students were settled all around and at least a few minutes of class time had been spent.

There is a point to this story, I swear. One day I was playing Fifth Hour Hero's Scattered Sentences album and a popular girl who never showed any interest to any of the music I liked suddenly started tapping her foot along with the music, while the resident skater kid -- who was somehow able to grow a beard I'll never be able to handle -- was doing the same thing. Perhaps it was the combination of melody and raw feel that comes with the band's music, but more likely it was the mix of Genevieve Tremblay and Oliver Maquire's vocals that won over these seemingly opposite kids. And I thought "YES! This is the music that can create bridges between people! Finally, we'll see the end of My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy shirts in the hallways and start seeing Fifth Hour Hero and Hot Water Music logos scribbled poorly on the binders of stoners." Of course, I was wrong; I get a lot more excited about music than my kids did and the next day they were begging for Kanye West.

Not Revenge...Just a Vicious Crush is the Quebec City band's second full-length, although they have released a number of EPs and splits on various labels. This latest effort shows them developing somewhat from previous efforts, all the while strengthening the very qualities that made them appealing in the first place. As mentioned before, the best thing about Fifth Hour Hero is the balance they find -- be it in melody and rough edges, male and female vocals, or personal and political (and often personal politics) lyrical subject matter.

On its best tracks such as "Divorce," "After All Is Said and Done," and "Bruce Oh My Bruce," Not Revenge showcases a band that has made a home with their sound and is finally settling into it. Sure, there's some Discount and Hot Water Music in the foundation, but it's truly their own place, their own sound. The sound they've made on Not Revenge is encouragingly uplifting throughout.

Of course, the positive spin on this review was largely aided by catching the band on a number of Quebec dates they recently shared with None More Black and the Sainte Catherines. On record, the songs come off way more polished than they do live, but just as good nonetheless.

The album does have some low points, mostly in a misplaced acoustic track (aren't those supposed to go at the end?) but by the time you really think about that, the next song is already on. Not Revenge isn't the best the band can do, but it's a damn fine record by any standards.