Half Hearted Hero - Defining. Refining. (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Half Hearted Hero

Defining. Refining. (2009)

Set Sail

Half Hearted Hero's Defining. Refining. might test one's threshold for how poppy they can take their melodic skatepunk. But if you can settle, Half Hearted Hero manages to deliver a very competent and enjoyable album.

The deceptive "Fractals" is a slower, fairly dynamic intro track that's noticeably gruffer than anything else on the disc. But once the next song hits, the band takes to their modus operandi, that being a saccharine sweet version of poppy, moderately technical skatepunk generally on the same plane as the Swellers, the Fullblast, or even the Starting Line circa Say It Like You Mean It at about double the speed. One of those bands actually get a direct nod in Track 2, "It's Cool, But the Fullblast Did It Already," with some lyrics cheekily lifted, too.

It'd probably be all for naught if the band didn't throw a little creativity into the mix, but "Cobblestones" stretches out past its breakneck speeds for some more heartaching octaves at its end, while "I'd Rather Be Out of the Kitchen Than on the Back Burner" splices in impressive soloing, and the dual riffing and forbidden beat execution in "A Pathetic Attempt at an Apathetic Approach" is fluid and able.

The most shocking song on the entire album comes about midway through in "In My Head and Out of My Hands," a considerably huge 'emo' ballad á la TSL's "A Goodnight's Sleep." If you don't mind a little bit of Drive-Thru-esque angst, it's a hell of a song and actually gets most interesting when it goes past the four-minute mark with its monstrous buildup and emotional climax. And it segues wonderfully into another of the album's standouts, "A Search for Definition," which is actually an instrumental interlude with a strangely human feeling to it.

Terribly original? Not entirely. Reminding you of an era you either grew out of or could never stand in the first place? Maybe. Well done? Undeniably so.

It's Cool, But the Fullblast Did It Already
A Pathetic Attempt at an Apathetic Approach
Something Missing