Hawthorne Heights: Skeletons

[Wind-Up Records]

Hawthorne Heights has nearly hit for the cycle in its decade-long career.

The Dayton band released a demo and EP as A Day in the Life before lineup shifts inspired founding lead vocalist/guitarist J.T. Woodruff to change the band’s name to Hawthorne Heights. Signing with Victory Records seemed a good fit; 2004’s The Silence in Black and White and 2006’s If Only You Were Lonely were certified platinum and gold, respectively, but an ill-conceived sales stunt by Victory led band and label to sue and countersue, resulting in HH earning the legal right to record for other labels.

In 2007, guitarist Casey Calvert died from a tragic and non-abusive interaction of prescription drugs. Rather than replace him, HH remained a quartet (Woodruff, guitarist/screamer Micah Carli, bassist Matt Ridenour, drummer Eron Bucciarelli), memorializing their fallen friend on 2008’s Fragile Future.

For Skeletons, Hawthorne Heights’ Wind-Up Records debut, the foursome has added an Electronic element to at least some of their Power Pop Punk repertoire. But HH’s evolution, which began with Fragile Future, might further alienate some of the band’s rabid fan base who view any departure from the band’s Screamo roots as a capitulation to Modern Rock trends.

It’s not hard to see their point. The ’80s-toned “Nervous Breakdown” (the album’s first single), “End of the Underground” and the anthemic “Bring You Back” all sport a rather generic sound, a tactic HH has already proven they don’t need to sell albums. There are quirks, notably the synth-driven “Drive,” the Western-themed “Gravestones” and the expansive “Boy,” but blogs are already lit up with pros and cons over Skeletons, which might require a few months and a couple of tours to connect with the old HH audience or attract a new one.

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