Friday, May 3, 2019

Album Review: The Wildhearts - Renaissance Men

In the ten years since ¡Chutzpah!, the Wildhearts' last studio album, bandleader Ginger has released several solo records, played with Michael Monroe and Courtney Love and seemingly broken up and reformed the band several times so it's a rather good surprise to see them release Renaissance Men with a recognisable line-up, thanks to the umpteenth return of classic-era bassist Danny McCormack.

Everything you need to know about the record (and about the Wildhearts in general) is summed up in the first single and album opener Dislocated: punk-infused furious hard rock with catchy melodies, the product of an ungodly gang bang between Cheap Trick, the Ramones, Motörhead, Discharge and KISS.

The pace remains frantic throughout the whole album, and all of the songs have that same schizophrenic quality. It sometimes feel as though they have crammed several songs into one, and somehow made it work. Nowhere is that more evident than on My Side Of The Bed, which is this reviewer's favourite track: an almost progressive number which starts with a sick, twisted intro and gives way to sunny pop/punk hooks before slowing down, then revving up again in a maelstrom of handclaps, dissonance and sound effects. Oh, and it finds the time to feature an epic solo as well.

Other highlights are Diagnosis, which is sort of a punk-rock AC/DC if you can imagine such a wonderful atrocity, the pub singalong hooligan chant of Let 'Em Go, the soaring melody of Fine Art Of Deception, the killer riff that drives My Kinda Movie and the poignant lyrics of Emergency (Fentanyl Babylon) which deal with the state of the health care service in the U.K.

The production is rich but not overbearing and the stacked vocals highlight the vocal gymnastics of
Ginger who pushes his voice to absolute extremes. On some of the thrashier numbers he sounds almost like Lemmy... but he is also capable of more gentle singing, sometimes in the same song.

The cliché about the Wildhearts is that they've been unlucky and missed the boat of success at a time when the style of music they played was popular all over the world. Yes, they have been one of the U.K.'s best kept secrets since their first album Earth vs. the Wildhearts. The title of this new album offers the best explanation as to why: they are Renaissance men trapped in the Modern era. Just don't put them in a museum just yet.

Genre: Hard Rock
Release Date: May 3rd, 2019
Label: Graphite Records
Rating: 8/10

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