REVIEW: Hawthorne Heights mix past and present on ‘Bad Frequencies’

hawthorne heights

Let’s cut to the chase and skip through all of the “Wow that band is still around?” and “I haven’t listened to them since ___” comments: yes, Hawthorne Heights is still a band. If you really haven’t listened to them since 2006 when If Only You Were Lonely came out, then you’ve missed out on a lot of good new tunes since then. You also probably missed out on the anniversary tours they did for The Silence In Black & White and If Only You Were Lonely.

Hawthorne Height’s last full-length album, Zero, came out back in 2013. Following the release, they supported that album, did the aforementioned anniversary tours for their first two albums, and even completed their EP trilogy. Now, five years removed from that last full-length, the band is ready to return with Bad Frequencies (due out April 27th on Pure Noise Records).

“In Gloom” opens the album with a slow first minute, as guitarist/vocalist JT Woodruff sings in solitary with just his guitar, reminiscing on the last few years of his life. Once the 58 seconds mark comes, the full band joins and it doesn’t take long for Hawthorne Heights to make their statement return. During the song, there’s a point where Woodruff sings “We’re closer to death, we’re getting older / I don’t want to make it on my own” a call back to their seminal song “Ohio Is for Lovers.

The call-backs to “Ohio Is for Lovers” roll over into the next track – and first single off of Bad Frequencies – “Pink Hearts.” This time it hits right away, with an opening line of “You know you already killed me / You know you killed me well.” Starting with “Pink Hearts” – a song about looking back on relationships you burned through in your younger years, and growing up to hope you didn’t hurt too many people – there is a poetic sense in Hawthorne Heights kicking off the record in such a nostalgic way.

Tracks like “Crimson Hand” – one of the heavier tracks on the album – and “Just Another Ghost” will remind fans of the Hawthorne Heights that they grew to love and appreciate. Both tracks are upbeat and showcase the catchy choruses that the band has always had a knack for writing, before including breakdowns layered with bassist Mark McMillion’s screams.

That’s not to say that the album is simply a throwback album full of songs that they have already written before. “Edge of Town” and “Starlighter (Echo, Utah)” are two tracks that stand out as the band pushes themselves to a more pop-driven sound. The latter finds Woodruff hitting higher notes than on previous Hawthorne Heights material, while the former has that same poppy sound, accompanied by lyrics reflecting back on your past and never wanting those times to end. In the interest of continuing to mix things up, the title track allows McMillon his moment to shine as well, following a soft first half of the song (similar to “In Gloom”). The last minute of the song plays out as an extended breakdown as he screams “I’ve got some bad frequencies buried in my skull.”

Perhaps one of the more standout tracks on Bad Frequencies is the album closer, “Pills.” Hawthorne Heights has made a career for themselves out of writing honest lyrics, and more specifically writing about sad situations. “Pills” is a shining example of these things. The mid-tempo track continues the trend of looking back on your past, this time reflecting on the loss of someone you care about. It doesn’t have your “classic” Hawthorne Heights feel to it, but if you were looking for a good representation of how this band can push themselves, look no further than “Pills.”

One of the more impressive things about Bad Frequencies is that they have seemingly found a way to move forward while looking back on their past. It’s easy to get wrapped up in nostalgia and forget that what’s most important is continuing to move forward in this journey. Five years removed from their last full-length, Hawthorne Heights came back with everything they had: their past and a sense of where they’re going. Through catchy hooks, breakdowns, and even some surprises in between, they have struck the perfect balance of reflection and projection.

Bad Frequencies is out this Friday, April 27th on Pure Noise Records, and you can pre-order the record here. If you dig the music, Hawthorne Heights just kicked off a huge U.S. tour. All of their upcoming dates can be found below.

4/24 – Philadelphia, PA | The Foundry
4/25 – Asbury Park, NJ | Wonder Bar
4/26 – Washington, DC | Rock & Roll Hotel
4/27 – Richmond, VA | Capital Ale House
4/28 – Raleigh, NC | Imurj
4/29 – Ashveille, NC | The Grey Eagle
4/30 – Nashville, TN | Topgolf
5/01 – Shreveport, LA | Bears on Fairfield
5/02 – Houston, TX | Warehouse Live
5/03 – Laredo, TX | The Club
5/5 – Mexico City, MX | Hell and Heaven Fest
5/06 – San Antonio, TX | Jack’s
5/08 – Springfield, MO | Outland Ballroom
5/09 – Omaha, NE | The Waiting Room
5/10 – Des Moines, IA | Wooly’s
5/11 – Iowa City, IA | Gabe’s
5/12 – Sioux Falls, SD | Sioux Falls Arena
5/13 – Somerset, WI | The Garage
5/18 – Columbus, OH | Rock On The Range
5/22 – Lawrence, KS | Granada Theatre
5/23 – Denver, CO | Marquis Theater
5/24 – Salt Lake City, UT | Urban Lounge
5/25 – San Diego, CA | House of Blues
5/26 – Los Angeles, CA | The Echo
5/27 – Anaheim, CA | House of Blues
5/28 – Phoenix, AZ | The Rebel Lounge
5/29 – Albuquerque, NM | Launchpad
5/30 – Lubbock, TX | Jake’s Backroom
5/31 – Dallas, TX | RBC
6/02 – Greeley, CO | Moxi Theater
6/03 – Colorado Springs, CO | The Black Sheep
6/05 – Billings, MT | Pub Station
6/06 – Missoula, MT | Top Hat Lounge
6/07 – Spokane, WA | The Big Dipper
6/08 – Boise, ID | The Olympic
6/09 – Portland, OR | Hawthorne Theatre
6/10 – Seattle, WA | Chop Suey
6/11 – Eugene, OR | Hifi Music Hall
6/12 – San Francisco, CA | DNA Lounge
6/13 – Santa Cruz, CA | The Catalyst
6/14 – Reedley, CA | The Wakehouse
6/15 – Las Vegas, NV | The Beauty Bar
6/21 – Honolulu, HI | Anna O’Brien’s
6/22 – Honolulu, HI | Anna O’Brien’s
6/29 – Anchorage, AK | Williwaw Social
6/30 – Fairbanks, AK | The Blue Loon