It seems that in the current day and age the process of starting a hardcore band has become an act of great ease as compared to, oh let's say, five years ago. Listen close to the first ten Revelation releases, rip off the riffs and place them just right, (don't forget your dive-bombs!) grab all your friends together to record gang vocals - if you're lucky Sweet Pete will be around to join in -and last, but most important, get that Myspace page in working order. Oh yes, be sure to decide whether your band's logo will be written in graffiti or varsity font. This will be crucial when it comes time to screen shirts. (Bring back the four-sided print!) Once these steps are complete, you're ready to play the local VFW or American Legion until you can work way up to the local club.
With that blatantly tongue-in-cheek synopsis of today's scene you can see that substance is something that many bands either leave by the wayside or they settle for sounding contrived. This really isn't the fault of any band in particular; many were just taking cues from their idols of hardcore's halcyon days of '88 and doing their best to pay homage. I mean, just how many songs can you write about staying true to friends - as long as they stay loyal to the X - and rising above the pressures of being a suburban white male? There are far too many, namely having to be in class during the final minutes of an eBay auction for a Carry-On test press. To show us how to make a top notch hardcore record without all the cliches I look to Have Heart's new album, The Things We Carry.
Before I get into the album itself, it common knowledge that many bands write a solid demo and seven inch but when it comes time to write more than fifteen minutes worth of music, they become banal and uninspiring. Such is the curse of the core; however, Have Heart doesn't succumb to this pitfall. This is why.
First, and foremost, we need to look at the lyrics. Vocalist Patrick Flynn understands two very important concepts that many other vocalists miss, thus making them mediocre. Flynn realizes the existence of other musical styles that aren't hardcore. Yes, I know this can be hard to fathom for many but it's true. The most notable example of this is buried within the lyrics, but for those who can't listen to anything more experimental than Quicksand or Fugazi, the liner notes mention that Flynn quotes not only Shipwreck, but Neil Young as well. Apparently rummaging through your parent's record collection is good for something after all. Not only does Flynn look to other genres for inspiration, but literature as well. He is a gentlemen and a scholar; within the lyrics of "Watch Me Sink" there is a reference to poet E.E. Cummings. I admire Have Heart's attempt to broaden the horizons of its listeners. Next, Flynn realizes that just because you play hardcore doesn't mean you have to write for the lowest common denominator of fans. He showcases this throughout the album, by not only writing self-empowering songs directed to the anonymous you (most often the listener), but also by penning narrative lyrics where a story unfolds, complete with meaningful posi message. Lyrics of such depth come few and far between these days.
Second, you'll notice that the structure of the songs are for more developed than any of their previous efforts, expanding their sound past that of a youth crew revival band, a term they might have earned in the past. Yes, there are crew vocals a plenty, and enough two step parts to keep have any serious bro tapping their toes all night, but also enough originality to make you feel that hardcore is still a fresh and vibrant genre.
I'll admit that it took me seven or eight listens to get the feel of this album, but, in a way, I feel that only shows that Have Heart is a band that earns their listener's respect rather than being an Internet hype band that's has a fan base that rarely exceed their friend's list.
8.0 / 10
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