Originally formed as A Day in The Life in 2001, newly re-named to Hawthorne Heights in 2004, the band would find their audience on the debut album The Silence in Black and White. A discovery point for them with Emo and Post-Hardcore fans, in truth, it was 2006’s If Only You Were Lonely that established themselves as a force in the music world. A career highlight, the sophomore album hit number 3 on the Billboard 200 chart, and with their single “Saying Sorry,” they lifted off, blazing a path for themselves ever since. However, the journey has not been without down points; this includes the untimely passing of Casey Calvert in 2007. Now nearly two decades since the band’s debut album, they return with a new EP called Lost Lights.
Released on September 8, 2023 through Pure Noise Records, Lost Lights EP is complete with a different approach for the band. A follow up to their 2021 album The Rain Just Follows Me, it should be known that Hawthorne Heights has always utilized their music as a tool to move through hardships in life. With Lost Lights they do just that, but do not allow any hardships to get in the way. In fact, they seem more inspired than ever before. Currently made up of James Thomas “JT” Woodruff on lead vocals/rhythm guitar/keyboards, Mark McMillon on guitar/unclean vocals, Matt Ridenour on bass guitar, and Chris “Poppy” Popadak on drums, this lineup seems to show further growth with their 5 tracks that make up Lost Lights.
A lot compacted into a short listening session, songs such as “The Storm” reflects the challenges the band has faced and continues to face. Re-defining themselves, there is a heavier tone here while JT’s voice takes on a less nasally sound than his younger years. This is the beginning of a stronger stance for Hawthorne Heights, and the screams that McMillion only exemplify it all the way through. That in mind, McMillion’s screams seem to get heavier overall as Lost Lights burns on, and that is rather interesting. There is also “Dandelions” signifying growth from some of the most difficult parts in life. This is evident with lyrics such as, “When there’s no one left to trust” and “We grow like dandelions And ravage everything we touch.” But there are also songs like “Empty” which give you a very catchy beat and chorus to lighten up the mood.
Overall, Lost Lights retains an even tone of higher energy throughout. About growth, it inspires you to rise up and evolve through the toughest of situations you are facing. In enough words, Hawthorne Heights has come a long way from their If Only You Were Lonely days. More mature and surprisingly heavier in many regards, Cryptic Rock gives Lost Lights 5 out of 5 stars.