THE WILDHEARTS – Renaissance Men

I put British rockers The Wildhearts in the file “bands I like but probably shouldn’t”. See, I’m not into Punk much at all and The Wildhearts’ simple, in-your-face, clearly Punk influenced Hard Rock isn’t something I usually get into. But I have always had a weak spot for this band even though they’ve never been a favorite band. The biggest reason for me liking the band is because of guitarist/lead vocalist Ginger’s amazing ability to write memorable melodies and catchy choruses that sticks big-time. Fact is, at times, I think the guy is a damn melody-genius, a master of uncheesy poppiness. For example, Ginger was very much behind Sensory Overdrive (2011) being Michael Monroe’s best solo album. But I must state that The Wildhearts’ albums has always been somewhat uneven. When Ginger’s Punk genes and love for hard-core Hard Rock meets Metal takes over, I’m not really there.

I don’t think that their debut album The World Vs The Wildhearts (1993) is that much to write home about and stuff like Fishing For Luckies (1996), The Wildhearts Must Be Destroyed (2003), the self-titled album from 2007 and their last album Chutzpah! (2009) both had some brilliant songs but also a bunch of songs that did nothing for me what so ever. Their best album, without a doubt, is their second outing P.H.U.Q. from 1995. The Wildhearts more or less disbanded back in 2010, when Ginger joined Michael Monroe’s band and int he the last 9 years the band has been doing occasional reunions here and there but no new music. But now they’re back with their classic line-up that features Ginger, guitarist C.J., bassist Danny McCormack and drummer Ritch Battersby and a new album, their first in nine years. Knowing The Wildhearts, I didn’t set my expectations too high as I know that this band is very unpredictable and you could very well be served with anything. That said, I was quite intrigued to see what the band had come up with this time.

Opener “Dislocated” is hard, aggressive, rowdy and raw – a punky mix of Hard Rock and Metal, brought in to kick your ass hard. Riff-happy and in-your-face but still with a large amount of hooks and a memorable and classic Ginger style catchy refrain, pop-laden but not exactly radio-friendly. A damn fine opener. “Let ’em Go” takes of a like freight-train with a shot wound, aggressive, rough and with a crunchy groove but the refrain is pop-catchy with all the hooks in the world – kick-ass yet sing-along friendly. Brilliant. Not as aggressive, the title-track has Ginger going “…so here we are again” over top-notch riffing and a million hooks that makes this pop-frenzied hard-rocker ridiculously catchy. “You can’t keep a good band down”. Damn right! “Fine Art Of Deception” with it’s “bullshit” chanting is dirty yet pop-laden in a punchy, in-your-face way. It holds a heavier outlook but again with a hook-crazy chorus memorable as hell.

The heavy, straight-forward and faster paced “Diagnosis” must be one The Wildhearts’ finest tunes to date. It’s punky with a Hard Rock groove over an AC/DC influenced riff, a huge main melody and a chorus that will bite your head off. It’s a dark track with a serious topic about mental health. Not everyone can mix a serious matter like this with so much catchiness. Bloody amazing! “My Kinda Movie” is fast, hard, rough and riff-happy where classic Hard Rock meets Metal over a punky attitude. It’s not as catchy as the previous songs but the melodies are still juicy. It’s an ok track but my least fave one so far. “Little Flower” is The Wildhearts doing their best trying to write a love song. It’s a straight ahead rough rocker, punky but with an instant pop-chorus with a slight Beatles touch over it. It’s very direct, distinct and the melodies are so infectious you’ll need hard meds to get rid of it – not that you’d want to. Pure brilliance.

“Emergency (Fentanyl Babylon)” – the title really speaks volumes what it’s about (he even name checks both Prince, Michael Jackson and Tom Petty) – is a Ramones goes Metal ballsy rocker that’s in-your-face with shitloads of attitude and a sticky refrain drenched in Pop hooks. It’s another very serious matter but sometimes you’ll need something catchy to get folks to listen. A killer! “My Side Of The Bed” is really a Pop song wearing a punky Hard Rock suit, like Cheap Trick having a co-write on their P.H.U.Q. record. It’s still both both heavy, riff-happy and crunch-groovy. Very good. Closing track “Pilo Erection” opens with a “one, two, fuck you” – nothing new, remember the Bulletboys? for instance? – and is rhythmic, bouncy, headbang-friendly and fat-riffing. The verses shows a big, striking song but the refrain is more pop laden with a melody with enough hooks to sell. And by the way, a pilo-erection isn’t as dirty as it might sound, we’re talking goosebumps here.

No fans need to worry about the 10 years away from recording has weakened the band. First of all, this album sounds just like The Wildhearts should and even though all songs comes with more poppiness than ever, the band hasn’t softened one bit. The music is still built on heaviness and a base of attitude, crunch and aggression but with layers of catchiness that will grab a hold of your brain and never leave – and the street punk attitude is as prominent as ever. How this album stands compared to their old releases, I will stick my neck out and say that it’s easily one of their best releases ever – if not the best. Because I can’t find one bad song on here, the worst one is good – Ginger really IS a pop-melody genius. I can’t wait to hear them live, I’m sure they’re gonna blow my head off!

9/10

Tracklist:

1. Dislocated
2. Let ‘em Go
3. Renaissance Men
4. Fine Art Of Deception
5. Diagnosis
6. My Kinda Movie
7. Little Flower
8. Emergency (Fentanyl Babylon)
9. My Side Of The Bed
10. Pilo Erection

 

Advertisements