Another day another Wildhearts album to review (it seems like only a few months since the last album and subsequent follow-up EP, even though it wasn’t) Along with a UK tour that actually tours the UK, imagine that folks. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, The Wildhearts. A great British institution in their own right, never mind if Motorhead moved next door and killed your lawn imagine what your lawn would look like with these likely lads rocking up and sonically blasting this bad boy out – every blade of grass on your garden and any other surrounding properties would be gary gonners. It’s time for them to mellow out and do an album of ’21st Century Love Songs’ or something like that (Not!) One look at the superb artwork might be a glimpse into whats coming.
’21st Century Love Songs’ is opened by the title track and like a pack of rabid dogs, they’re all over you, barking and straining at the leash – kicking the living crap out of your ears before you have time to get comfortable and settle into the bloody record. Sonically speaking, it’s a full-frontal assault but the melodies herein are lush and totally at odds with the aural barrage you’re getting from the thunderous rhythm section and dart attacks off Ginger and CJ who, let’s be honest, are on fuckin’ fire! I’m not kidding its like hearing an album in one song – like a rollercoaster of riffs and melodies that feel like your head is going to explode you wonder where the hell this is heading and can it be sustained. A fantastic opener and a real statement of intent – Ladies and Gentlemen you are now experiencing the new Wildhearts record, and its intense, beautiful, wonderfully loud and fuking exciting. Welcome!
Now get ready for some serious Wildhearts Bop with some fine bass runs that make your feet move on ‘Remember These Days’ with some great harmonies and gang vocals which the band does so well. The song twists and turns throughout filling every corner with music like an explosion of colour.
Take a sharp breath folk because the grunt on ‘Splitter’ is off the scale. The mix is nuts with the lead vocals way down and competing like battling tops for space which adds to the controlled chaos that’s burrowing into your head. fan-fucking-tastic tune and one that will go down well live as the slide guitar spins round and dive bombs through the mix and this is only a few songs deep.
If you thought the band touched on heavy on ‘Renaissance Men’ then hold on to your knickers because ‘Institutional Submission’ hacks and slashes like a frenzied killer. It’s like early Mayhem but done by big boys who aren’t wet behind the ears as it goes in for the kill with an underlying melody that Ginger does so so well as it drops and takes a breather. I think it was Wayne who said intensity intensified he must have been onto something because that’s what this is. Wildhearts disciples will love it and as the song meanders back up to speed.
We’ve all seen the video for ‘Sleepaway’ right? now I went to boil the kettle at the start and even though the neighbours closed their curtains I thought it sounded like a Who track with a swinging pair of bollocks and plenty of clout but that might just be me but it has a bit of boogie in it as well, great track.
It would be fair to say that ‘You Do You’ is the closest the record gets to what one might consider a Wildherts album track. Nothing wrong with it at all and I’m sure it will grow and melodies and lyrics will jump out on me but its sandwiched between the two tracks that I’d already heart dozens of times so I might revisit it in due course but ‘Sort Your Fucking Shit Out’ is a belter and a song I loved the first time I heard it. Big chug on the riff-o-la and some terrific vocals to be fair. As far away from the grunt and rowdiness elsewhere perfected on the album but here is what one might describe as a toe-tapper.
With three tracks left the band crank it up with some filthy guitars cranking out the riffs on ‘Directions’ it’s like showing off the way the band goes from heavy as a breeze block to the head to lush melody and back again with a change in tempo and direction like twisting the top off a pop bottle and then the fizz gushes – well, that ‘Directions’ that is. Calling the penultimate track ‘A Physical Exorcism’ it’s pretty much what you’ve just experienced my friends an exhausting, mentally draining, emotionally uplifting, life-affirming, joyous listening experience courtesy of these four Wildhearts bastards. Rock and Roll can be all things to all men and women but it’s fantastic that we still have functioning bands like The Wildhearts who just keep rolling with the punches and churning out albums that challenge and bring happiness and something to look forward to in tough times. A cheeky smile here, a wink there and some heads down go for it loud Rock and Roll bringing it all together. Thank the lord for the Wildhearts and another most excellent album.
Author: Dom Daley