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House of Heroes - Cold Hard Want Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 7
Musicianship 7
Lyrics 7
Production 7
Creativity 7
Lasting Value 7
Reviewer Tilt 7
Final Verdict: 70%
Member Ratings
Vocals 8.47
Musicianship 8.16
Lyrics 7.81
Production 8.41
Creativity 7.78
Lasting Value 7.97
Reviewer Tilt 8.28
Average: 81%
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House of Heroes - Cold Hard Want

Reviewed by: Matthew Tsai (07/07/12)
House of Heroes - Cold Hard Want
Release Date: July 10th, 2012
Record Label: Gotee Records


Here’s a band that deserves fun.-level success. House of Heroes are technically in their 14th year as a band now, and though they’ve yet to sniff at the kind of radio blitz “We Are Young” has enjoyed, they’ve penned several songs that should have. I don’t know their discography as thoroughly as I should, but I do remember as far back as the roaring “Serial Sleepers,” and of course 2008’s showstopper The End Is Not the End (songs that should’ve earned them much more attention than they currently get just off the top of my mind: “Code Name: Raven,” “Baby’s a Red,” “In the Valley of the Dying Sun”). Don’t even get me started on Suburba, which was an exercise in pop perfection.

But despite being perpetually underrated, they’re still trying. Cold Hard Want revolves around desperation – the kind of urgency the band felt was necessary to take them to the “next level” and stay afloat in the music industry. To make it, they shelved their quirky eccentricities and buckled down with straightforward rock’n’roll: Less Relient K, more Guns N Roses, if you will. It’s still signature House of Heroes (two tracks, “A Man Who’s Not Afraid” and “Curtains” are acapella), but whereas it felt like they were ready to crack a hearty smile at any moment on previous albums, here, everything’s done with their game face on.

I don’t think the newfound seriousness helps them much. It leaves Cold Hard Want feeling somewhat uninspired, which is a weird thing to say about anything related to House of Heroes. As usual, there are songs that brim with energy (“Out My Way,” “Dance (Blow It All Away),” “Suspect,” “Touch This Light”) and songs that are duds (“Remember the Empire"). There are ballads that soar (“The Cop,” “Angels of Night”) and ballads that thud (“We Were Giants”). And of course, their closers are always epic, and that’s no exception here (“I Am A Symbol”). But without their trademark quirkiness, everything feels dimmer. The highs aren’t as memorable, and the lows are less appealing.

A review described Suburba as “galactically ambitious,” which is what’s ultimately missing on Cold Hard Want. Remember the way “God Save the Foolish Kings” so effortlessly painted high school romanticism over a majestic, colossal melody (by the way, it’s also the best pop song I’ve ever heard, and that’s not an exaggeration)? Only “Dance (Blow It All Away)” comes close to even approaching its grandeur. "We can dance, we can rage or blow it all away!" it proclaims, but it doesn't inspire much awe.

I’m not saying I understand business from the perspective of album and ticket sales, but from a purely musical angle, House of Heroes have had what it takes to stay afloat in the music industry for several albums now. Actually, much more than just stay afloat – they’ve been consistently head and shoulders above their peers, and they’ve achieved that by just being themselves (which sometimes has meant singing about everything from communists to midnights after school behind the bleachers). Their dominance hasn’t changed with Cold Hard Want – indeed the album’s still miles ahead of much of the rest of the genre – but measure it against the standard House of Heroes have created for themselves and I don’t think it shines as bright.

7/10

Additional InformationTrack Listing:
1. A Man Who's Not Afraid
2. Out My Way
3. Dance (Blow It All Away)
4. Remember the Empire
5. We Were Giants
6. The Cop
7. Comfort Trap
8. Touch This Light
9. Angels of Night
10. Stay
11. Suspect
12. Curtains
13. I Am A Symbol

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Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 34.
04:43 PM on 07/07/12
#2
OurLadyCoolbean
False. Black bears.
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Hmmm.... well Tate liked it a lot so I'm going to remain hopeful that this will at least top Suburba
09:14 PM on 07/08/12
#3
cholly
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I think this is the best album of the band's career. it's got Tim Skipper's voice absolutely soaring, beautiful harmonies, gang vocals that are just begging to be sung along with, and some legit lyrics. yeah, they lost some of the goofiness found on their other albums, but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. I love their previous work, but this album really blew me away, and it's only gotten better with repeated listens.
05:21 AM on 07/09/12
#4
brandonisstupid
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Completely agree with you about Suburba. It's a great album and had it not had the impossible task of trying to live up to The End Is Not The End, I think it would have been received better by their fans. I've only listen to Cold Hard Want all the way through once or twice and I'm really hoping it'l grow on me, because I think it's their weakest release so far.
08:03 AM on 07/09/12
#5
Portugal4142
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First off, well written review. I'm not sure I've read many of yours before, I like your style of writing. 2ndly, thank you praising Suburba. I don't know how people say it's their weakest efftort, it's an excellent album.

Personally, I think the weakest part of this record is its lyrics which just come off cheesy or forced at times. But the vocals have never been better.

Overall I'd have this at least 85%.
09:20 AM on 07/09/12
#6
The Grey Man
Team Larz
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Hope my pre-order comes soon!
09:30 AM on 07/09/12
#7
Matthew Tsai
Born and raised
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I think this is the best album of the band's career. it's got Tim Skipper's voice absolutely soaring, beautiful harmonies, gang vocals that are just begging to be sung along with, and some legit lyrics. yeah, they lost some of the goofiness found on their other albums, but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. I love their previous work, but this album really blew me away, and it's only gotten better with repeated listens.

Completely agree with you about Suburba. It's a great album and had it not had the impossible task of trying to live up to The End Is Not The End, I think it would have been received better by their fans. I've only listen to Cold Hard Want all the way through once or twice and I'm really hoping it'l grow on me, because I think it's their weakest release so far.

First off, well written review. I'm not sure I've read many of yours before, I like your style of writing. 2ndly, thank you praising Suburba. I don't know how people say it's their weakest efftort, it's an excellent album.

Personally, I think the weakest part of this record is its lyrics which just come off cheesy or forced at times. But the vocals have never been better.

Overall I'd have this at least 85%.

House of Heroes is one of my most respected and admired bands on this site. This band deserves so much success and I continue to fully support them. This album, however, just felt a little flat in terms of memorability, especially compared to the colorfulness and creativity of the last two releases.
09:31 AM on 07/09/12
#8
combatchuckaa
blammo!
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Good review but I believe the album is better than the review states it is. The band has continued to mature both sonically and lyrically, and it really shows on this album.
09:44 AM on 07/09/12
#9
CluckyB
Modern Baseball is WAR
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Woah. Score is a lot lower than I expected. Glad to see you're being honest in your review on it and not just going "ITS HOUSE OF HEROES GONNA GIVE IN A 9 AT MINIMUN"
09:58 AM on 07/09/12
cholly
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House of Heroes is one of my most respected and admired bands on this site. This band deserves so much success and I continue to fully support them. This album, however, just felt a little flat in terms of memorability, especially compared to the colorfulness and creativity of the last two releases.
I thought your review was well written and well reasoned, and I totally respect your opinion. it sucks when an album doesn't live up to your expectations, and I'm sorry this one didn't do it for you.
10:00 AM on 07/09/12
Matthew Tsai
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I thought your review was well written and well reasoned, and I totally respect your opinion. it sucks when an album doesn't live up to your expectations, and I'm sorry this one didn't do it for you.
Thanks for the kind words! Yeah, while this one didn't really do it for me, I know the band has more than a couple of great albums left in the tank.
10:04 AM on 07/09/12
cholly
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Thanks for the kind words! Yeah, while this one didn't really do it for me, I know the band has more than a couple of great albums left in the tank.
I hope so, but if not, I could probably listen to their last three forever haha.
10:42 AM on 07/09/12
guitarguy211
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I personally started listening to HOH a lot at Suburba, so I never had to deal with trying to put it above TEINTE. Each of their albums has had something unique--and I think you got that absolutely Matthew!

After hearing the song clips and things they've done leading up to this, I'm excited for how it sounds, but there was something that felt a little off about it. I'll be interested to see how it is in full.
01:24 PM on 07/09/12
gman610
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I actually started with House of Heroes around the time their self-titled came out (later re-released as Say No More). It's been really cool to see how they've progressed over the years, but this feels almost like a return to that sound, just more refined. While I do think Suburba is unfairly maligned by fans, it's still probably my least favorite album of theirs. The End is Not The End just casts a huge shadow, and I think it will be difficult to get out from under it.

I've only listened to this one once, since I just got it today, but I'm really liking it. It doesn't quite have the genre-hopping that their last two efforts have had, but it is an incredibly solid pop-rock record. The production really stood out to me, with everything sounding really hard-hitting. And, as said above, the vocals on this are outstanding. It kind of lost some steam near the end for me, but we'll see how it grows.
03:37 PM on 07/09/12
OurLadyCoolbean
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Have this album sitting in the back of the store I work at and it's taking all my willpower not to take it yet haha
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