Album Review
Half Hearted Hero - Defining. Refining. Album Cover

Half Hearted Hero - Defining. Refining.

Reviewed by
Half Hearted Hero - Defining. Refining
Record Label: Farewell Party/Set Sail
Release Date: June 1, 2009
Seemingly transported from 10 years ago, Half Hearted Hero is one of those pleasant discoveries you feel satisfied with because they don't beat around the bush. Defining. Refining is the band's full-length debut and while it certainly sounds like it's legendary scene predecessors, it hardly feels predictable. The Massachusetts quintet is not quite as rapid-fire as most punk groups nowadays, nor are they are lavishly obsessed with wondrous pop hooks; the lack of conformity is a fresh angle in the pop-punk set, as many songs dip into slow-paced breaks that segue into other songs. Somewhere in between all the radical genres of punk, fiddling with their late-90's emo lyricism and technical instrumentals, Half Hearted Hero offers up a hefty debut that starts off rocky and rolls right through the finishing line without too many knicks to tally up.

After the introductory number "Fractuals," "It's Cool, But the Fullblast Already Did It" skips over the tongue-in-cheek title for a pretty basic pop-punk track that drags lyrically and tires quickly. Just like learning to fly, the band starts out shaky but soon collects themselves and sets course for "Cobblestones," which sound vaguely like older Valencia. Anthony Savino's vocals tackle just about every pop-punk style, going from Shane Henderson to Chris Conley to Patrick Stump (Take This To Your Grave-era), and when the band expands their sound as a fuller unit, it doesn't get much better.

"I'd Rather Be Out of the Kitchen Than On the Back Burner" is gloriously lush and "In My Head and Out of My Hands" has potential to storm the airwaves with a tighter production budget under its belt. Despite all the kitschy song titles, make no mistake -- Half Hearted Hero are not your prototypical pop-punk band. "Note On the Floor" is a technically diverse epic number that weaves in and out of furiously-paced drums and Savino's melodic delivery. Clinton Lisboa and AJ Mills duel between muted riffs and blues-like rhythm, while Meyer Brown constructs a fierce pace that layers each track. While the band tinkers with being a cohesive unit that never conforms to mainstream ideals, the record does seem concerned with the fact that it's not 30 minutes of straightforward verse-chorus-verse, three-chord punk rock. The main problem with Defining. Refining is general lack of focus, which sometimes hurts the flow of it all.

Half Hearted Hero are fortunate enough to have recorded a debut full-length that is ahead of the curve and quite different from today's pop-punk crowd. However, with an experienced producer on-board alongside them, there is no telling what these five young boys could do. Lose the bratty splatter of "It's Cool, But..." and this is exactly the sort of record an older crowd of pop-punk enthusiasts could fall in love with. The three recommended "Choice Cuts" are precisely the sort of material the band ought to consider feasting upon for their next effort, because they're huge-sounding, well-written songs that neglect substance for true grit.

Bringing their own New England style with some Midwestern emo & SoCal pop-punk influence, you'd be hard-pressed to dismiss Half Hearted Hero at all. Staying true to what their album title suggests, they're gathering up their influences and making something entirely their own. Keep your eyes & ears peeled, because in due time, Half Hearted Hero will no longer be splashing around trying to gain attention -- they'll be making all the waves on their own.

Recommended if You LikeValencia playing frisbee with Fall Out Boy & New Found Glory in a park, just as Student Rick stops by.
Choice Cuts"I'd Rather Be Out of Kitchen Than On The Back Burner," "In My Head and Out of My Hands" and "Notes On the Floor"

Tracklisting1. Fractals
2. It's Cool, But the Fullblast Already Did It
3. Cobblestones
4. I'd Rather Be Out of the Kitchen Than On the Back Burner
5. Meter - I Just Met Her!
6. A Pathetic Attempt at an Apathetic Approach
7. In My Head and Out of My Hands
8. The Search For Definition
9. Something Missing
10. A Clean Break
11. Notes On the Floor
12. Colder Weather
Band MembersAnthony Savino: vocals
Meyer Brown: bass/vocals
Clinton Lisboa: guitar
A.J. Mills: guitar
Ian Legge: drums

Online VitalsOfficial Myspace
PurchaseOffical Store
This review is a user submitted review from smoke4thecaper. You can see all of smoke4thecaper's submitted reviews here.
Displaying posts 1 - 12 of 12
07:04 PM on 07/31/09
User Info.
CellarGhosts's Avatar
Good album, and a good review Chris. Nice job!
09:44 PM on 07/31/09
Welcome to the Blue Hell
User Info.
brenByah's Avatar
Because of your RIYL, that's the exact scene I'm envisioning while listening to this, ha ha. Reminds me a bit of The Junior Varsity at times.
04:25 PM on 08/01/09
things mean a lot at the time
User Info.
GuitarR0cker1's Avatar
damn I've got to listen to this. Fall Out Boy + New Found Glory= perfect pop "punk" record.
05:13 PM on 08/01/09
Gregory Robson
Under Rug Swept
User Info.
Gregory Robson's Avatar
Student Rick! YES!
08:25 PM on 08/01/09
Alex DiVincenzo
User Info.
Alex DiVincenzo's Avatar
Great review. I enjoy these local dudes a lot.
02:16 AM on 08/02/09
Registered User
User Info.
emoboy333's Avatar
Really, it's a great record... A million times better than all the bands releasing music nowadays...
Fast paced pop punk with feelings!
09:20 PM on 08/02/09
Everything's done under the sun
User Info.
macabre's Avatar
Great guys, great record
06:19 PM on 08/03/09
Chris Immunity
Immunity Clothing
User Info.
Chris Immunity's Avatar
not only a group of good guys, but a DAMN good record. good review although i didn't fully agree with you.
03:31 PM on 09/06/09
John Collins
Regular Member
User Info.
No Avatar Selected
This is a great album!
10:59 PM on 02/11/11
Registered User
User Info.
No Avatar Selected
Im a big fan of halfhearted hero and enjoyed the review, but you seemed to bounce back and fourth saying they had an over played sound and also saying it was a style all thheir own. You need to sort of stick to one side but over all you did a good job describing their overall sound.
10:31 AM on 02/20/11
Ryan Chadwick
Regular Member
User Info.
Ryan Chadwick's Avatar
Im a big fan of halfhearted hero and enjoyed the review, but you seemed to bounce back and fourth saying they had an over played sound and also saying it was a style all thheir own. You need to sort of stick to one side but over all you did a good job describing their overall sound. (New Profile)

Search News
Release Dates
Best New Music
Submit News
Mobile Version
AP.net Logos
Encore Podcast
Free Music
Sports Forum
Technology Forum
Contact Us
Copyright Policy
Terms of Service
Privacy Policy
Twitter | Facebook | RSS
Encore Podcast on iTunes
Encore on Overcast
AP.net on Tumblr
Chorus.fm | @jason_tate