For a seasoned Have Heart fan, two of the most important aspects that have changed during the two years between the band's EP What Counts and The Things We Carry are the clean production and lyrical improvement, though neither were enough of an issue in the first place to keep What Counts from being a solid EP. The Things We Carry is the product of a band who are wise beyond their years. While What Counts offered songs mostly discussing traditional hardcore material, The Things We Carry provides lyrics you don't have to claim edge or be passionate about the hardcore scene to appreciate. Hell, even a quote from E.E Cummings manages to appropriately fit into the album ("of a world that's doing its best, night and day, to make you (me) everybody else" in "Watch Me Sink").
The Things We Carry won't give you the chance to prepare for its intensity with how immediately hard-hitting the first track, "Life Is Hard Enough," is. You'll be given an opportunity to rest during the intro for "Watch Me Sink," but not for long as the track soon features stern, memorable shouts of "A breaking in spirit / a breaking in promise / a breaking in me." Another standout track soon follows with the powerful "Armed with a Mind." Lyrically the song shows off how mature the band has become through lyrics like "True beauty can't be seen with the eyes" and "Boy, your true strength sleeps behind your eyes." The words themselves don't sound overly eloquent, yet through the genuine passion and conviction in their delivery, a strong message is relayed.
Following the re-recorded, straight-edge anthem "Something More Than Ink" (originally from What Counts) is "The Machinist," featuring guest vocals from Sean Murphy of Verse which lend to the track's powerful appeal. Have Heart ends The Things We Carry at the strongest point possible with "Watch Me Rise." When you think the track is over it returns in full force to complete the message "I'd rather die on my feet than live on my knees." The sheer presentation of the vocals is nothing short of incredible, forceful and uplifting, while the track itself is exceptionally unique in melody.
It's impossible for words to do this album justice. The Things We Carry? Powerful, dynamic, and hard-hitting. Get into it.