Have Heart Songs To Scream At The Sun
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01. The Same Son
03. Pave Paradise
04. On The Bird In The Cage
05. Brotherly Love
06. No Roses, No Skies
07. The Taste of the Floor
09. Hard Bark on the Family Tree
10. The Same Sun
Reviewed by: Cory
// Published: 7/21/2008
It's only their sophomore album, but Boston's Have Heart are already having a pretty serious identity crisis. They made a name for themselves playing relatively straight forward youth crew hardcore with a 90's edge, but their new material stretches for something more. It's apparently not enough for these guys to be an awesome hardcore band, they felt the all too common pull to "transcend the boundaries" of hardcore. Some bands can pull this sort of thing off and some would be better served sticking to what they do best. Have Heart haven't quite fallen off entirely here, but Songs To Scream At The Sun definitely doesn't match the intensity or quality of The Things We Carry.
The first apparent step to becoming a more "creative" hardcore band is playing pretty much everything just a little bit slower and making the guitar work as sparse as possible. It certainly worked for Modern Life Is War and Blacklisted so why not, right Here's why not: Because the majority of these songs feel less like a punch in the face and more like a soft tap on the shoulder. There's nothing wrong with many of these tracks per se, but this record lacks all of the impact of Have Heart's first full-length. I lost track of how many songs feature a part where the guitar dropped out (or at least down to single notes ringing out) while a simple bass line and hi-hat tried to make the vocals seem more intense. In their attempt to become less formulaic, Have Heart simply traded one formula (that worked quite well, for the record) for one that just doesn't fit them.
The lyric sheet is a great metaphor for the band's supposed maturity, neatly displaying the band's lyrics as poetry but omitting all of the profanity, as if certain words are fine to sing but not sophisticated enough to appear on paper. It's as if these guys are trying their hardest to prove that they're more than just a hardcore band but it's just not in their nature. I can't really blame them for trying, but I just don't buy this transformation. They made all the right steps, switching Kurt Ballou for Jim Siegel, featuring a bunch of amateur photography throughout the booklet and even featuring an e.e. cummings poem in the disc's tray, but none of this can substitute for the conviction with which they've previously delivered traditional hardcore.
Bottom Line: Have Heart have changed their style on their latest full-length. It's not the worst thing I've ever heard, but it was definitely a disappointment for me as a fan of their previous material. Growth is all well and good but in this case, it feels forced in every way. There's no transition or hint of their previous material in here. There are some strong tracks sprinkled throughout this record, but the formula wears thin quickly and Have Heart just don't make a convincing argument for change.
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