The Ohio-based alternative band Hawthorne Heights is back with the second installment in their announced EP trilogy. “Hope” follows the dark and angry “Hate” (released in August 2011) with a predictably lighter mood, though just barely.
The EP starts off with an immediate tie-in track to “Hate,” titled “There Was a Kid, Pt. 2.” The song seemingly uses the same music as “There Was a Kid, Pt. 1,” as well as the raw, low-spoken quality of the monologue paired with it. Despite the depressing tone to the lyrics, they speak of a boy who rises above his undesirable circumstances enough to know there is hope for the future. It is quite different from the boy referred to in “Pt. 1,” who seemingly has none.
This thread of being just a hair more positive than the tracks of “Hate” echoes throughout the entire album, giving it a sense of cohesiveness that one would hope to find in an EP that is made to serve as a sort of sequel. “Running in Place (Niki Fm)” is a good example of this sense of veiled goodness, speaking of several cases of pain and loss and then following up by saying, “you never mattered anyway,” and “I’ll never stand outside your window,” both showing that the narrator knows he is better than his obstacles.
Another direct nod to the first EP of the trilogy is the inclusion of a title track, which, despite being near the end of the album, serves the general purpose of promoting the theme as well as cheering the listener some. “Hope” is easily the lightest and most positive track on the release, and by making it so, the band rewards listeners for bearing through the first five tracks, as well as bracing them for the remaining two.
“Chemicals” is a very strong finish to the EP, and is arguably the best song on it. It deals with drug use and promotes a sense of hopelessness in the lyrics, “these chemicals are all I know.” Its contradiction to the rest of the album validates the listener’s perception that perhaps the hope being preached at so intently has always been fragile. This relapse leaves the band with plenty of wiggle room for their final EP in the trilogy, of which the name and release date have not been released. Given that there is a good 10 months in between the first two EPs, we might have to wait until 2013 to find out how the members of Hawthorne Heights conclude their story.