Reviews H2O Still the Same Fellas


Still the Same Fellas

There is no doubt in the sincerity of Toby Morse's declaration that H2O have nothing to prove. And while their canon of endlessly catchy and inspiring melodic hardcore songs speaks for itself, their return has generated intense speculation about whether we're getting an album of melodic New York hardcore or poppier leaning tunes a la Go. While I've never fully understood the antipathy for Go, there is no denying it is a polarizing album. So with the announcement of their first full-length in seven years, many see this new record as the album that either solidifies their legacy, or serves as a further departure from H2O's hardcore roots. After one spin of their new 7", it is clear that H2O live the ethos articulated so powerfully by Raymond "Raybeez" Barbieri years ago and has indeed not forgotten their roots.

Morse's strength as a lyricist is readily apparent: Pick up any modern hardcore album littering the used bin at your local record store and pore through the lyrics. The odds are strong that you'll find an abundance of dogmatic clichés and didactic sermons. Conversely, Morse has always found a way to express himself in a manner that not only sparks a desire to sing-along, but also inspires and feels unwaveringly sincere. Hardcore at its best provides inspiration to tackle the world and helps one feel less fucking alone and alienated. Those elements are indelibly etched on the grooves of Gorilla Biscuits Start Today and Morse and his cohorts are the most logical heirs to their throne.

"Nothing to Prove" and "1995" are classic H2O. Both tracks combined don't even crack the four minute mark and are laced with catchy choruses, group vocals, and the distinctive New York hardcore sound, but are fused with melodies and hooks that enable the band to connect with an audience beyond devoted hardcore kids.

"Nothing to Prove" is a defiant declaration that H2O as a band and New York hardcore as a movement have accomplished enough that they are free to take risks and write records on their own terms. The track serves as a direct response to those who responded negatively to H2O's creative departure on Go and subsequently doubted the bands ability to write compelling new songs. The inclusion of Roger Miret and Danny Diablo as guest vocalists establishes the NYHC family vibe that worked so well on their previous albums.

"1995" functions as a sequel to "Faster Than the World." While "1995" still extols the excitement of and passion for touring, Morse comes to terms with his desire to also be at home with his family. He manages to transform his personal insights into words that are instantly fit for sing-alongs, but also effectively convey his reflections on balancing tour and family life.

This 7" bodes well for their upcoming full-length, Nothing to Prove. These two tracks are largely celebratory and narrative-based, and while they serve a purpose, I'm especially interested in hearing the more personal songs that are hinted at in their press release. Morse is one of the best at writing introspective lyrics that possess an anthemic quality. He's consistently written about topics that wouldn't ordinarily work within the hardcore song structure and made them feel natural. If these songs are any indication, it looks like H2O's new full-length may be the soundtrack to summer '08.

8.5 / 10Mike B.
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8.5 / 10

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