Hope of the States lost one of their best friends during the recording of The Lost Riots. They could have given it all up to mourn the loss of founding guitarist James Lawrence, but their dedication to one another and to their music could not be disregarded. The majestic soundscape that is The Lost Riots honors the band's personal bond and cherishes the memory of their late friend, but that's merely a stepping stone. Sam Herlihy's bittersweet vocal delivery during the piano-driven ballads "Don't Go to Pieces" and "Sadness on My Back" matches the heartache previously displayed by Starsailor's James Walsh. He's even a touch like Richard Ashcroft, a working-class poet in progress much like Ashcroft was during his latter years with the Verve. With their tragic loss aside, there's a lilting sense of comfort surrounding the 13-song set. Hope of the States compose a youthful, rebellious spark found in those who raise a fist against corporate establishment. The dynamic of love and loss will never rest, and it bursts with a millions fibers and a few tears as Hope of the States channel their frustration for the man versus man equation. Herlihy's heavy-hearted voice and Mike Siddell's atmospheric violin arrangements during "Enemies/Friends" immediately set the anthemic tone of The Lost Riots. Words as simple as "Come on people/keep your friends close/your enemies won't matter/in the end" makes it all seem so easy. Hope of the States encourage those people to take a stand against anything that challenges faith. It's just their sharp, yet sensitive approach that makes The Lost Riots emerge honest and true. Even the more ambitious numbers like "The Red the White the Black the Blue," a downpour of acoustic guitars, pianos, and percussion, and the old-timey jangle "George Washington" don't come off as pretentious or overly earnest. It's likely that Hope of the States are firm in questioning a bullying United States, but the songs are open-ended enough so that they could be about anything to anyone. Genuine sincerity is the key to their success, and The Lost Riots breaks apart the darkness of personal tragedy for a joyful daybreak. Herlihy softly croons "I've seen from broken people smile" at the start of "Black Dollar Bills." If that's not enough to impress you, the soaring exclamation of "Nehemiah" is promising. The double-cross of emotions holds The Lost Riots together, thus making Hope of the States' first introduction an impressionable one.
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AllMusic Review by MacKenzie Wilson