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The Heartbreaks / November 2014 English Tour

 
By on Friday, 22nd August 2014 at 8:15 am
 

Morecambe indie-pop quartet The Heartbreaks will hit the road for a short tour of England this November. Their most recent album ‘We May Yet Stand A Chance’ is out now. Tickets for the following shows are already on sale.

Tuesday 4th November 2014 – Leeds Oporto
Wednesday 5th November 2014 – London Lexington
Thursday 6th November 2014 – Manchester Sound Control
Saturday 8th November 2014 – Liverpool East Village Arts Club
Friday 28th November 2014 – Nottingham Bodega

 

Album Review: The Heartbreaks – We May Yet Stand a Chance

 
By on Friday, 30th May 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

Morecambe band The Heartbreaks are an unusual proposition in today’s music climate. After reading this disheartening article in the Observer last weekend whose contents I knew to be true but I didn’t enjoy reading it spelled out in black and white, I’m positive they’re the kind of band that doesn’t fit into anyone’s boxes and won’t get a fair shake at Radio 1. Ever. But one gets the distinct feeling the Heartbreaks were never in it to gain approval from those kinds of suits.

That’s something very Northern of them: wanting to write and put out the kind of music they want, the way they wanted to, and sod everyone else. ‘We May Yet Stand a Chance’ is proof of this. I mean, for one, just look at the title. It’s a sneer, albeit a veiled one, to the people who say bands like them will never make it. It’s witty, in the vein of what their former tourmate and idol Morrissey might write. Yet it’s tinged with optimism, that there is underlying hope, that success is achievable, that there’s a method to the madness. But is this album truly enough to make their voices heard?

‘We May Yet Stand a Chance’ is the second album from the lads, and it’s being released 2 years on from ‘Funtimes’, which featured several pop gems including my personal favourite ‘I Didn’t Think It Would Hurt to Think of You’ and the song that was voted by the readers of The Fly as the best song of 2012 and made the BBC’s Steve Lamacq sit up and take notice of the group, ‘Delay, Delay’. Lammo’s support of the group continues with this album, having famously decreed in February that after listening to the new album and determining how great it was, he would quit his post at 6music if the suits didn’t find it in their hearts to play the band’s music. That’s about as good as a golden endorsement as you’re ever going to get from the indie band champion of the world. So far, the band have released three singles, two of which found great support among TGTF ranks: Martin reviewed ‘¡No Pasarán!’ in October and extolled its nod to Ennio Morricone and sonic epicness, and when I was in holiday in Sheffield earlier this month, I applauded the incredible pop melody and thoughtful lyrics of drummer Joe Kondras in ‘Absolved’.

However, as a complete album, the song order of the album doesn’t work well, nor do I think it’s particularly cohesive as a group of songs put together. I understand every band’s interest in putting all their energy into the singles they plan to release, since those are the ones that have the chance to get picked up by radio. In the Heartbreaks’ case, I think the album suffers from a lack of momentum, especially after getting a running start with singles ‘Absolved’ and ‘Hey, Hey Lover’, the latter of which begins gracefully but becomes a monster of a commanding love song. Much of the rest of the album’s instrumentation centres on the deft guitar work of Ryan Wallace, but the songs are of the slow burn, reflective, introspective variety and might disappoint those expecting an album full of ‘Absolved’ and ‘Hey, Hey Lover’ clones.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-5X9frX75U[/youtube]

As a concept on paper, LP opener ‘Paint the Town Beige’ should work: it’s an exercise in calling out the sanitisation and gentrification of our cities so they’re more palatable for the richer echelons of society. However, it gives the false impression that the rest of the album is…well…equally slimy and downtrodden. It’s a lot to take in, if that’s your initial whiff of this album. (Later on, the album is bookended by ‘Dying Sun’, which brings their political views back up to the surface, but whether or not this will serve to their benefit or detriment remains to be seen.) ‘Robert Jordan’ is presumably about the doomed character in Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, whose own ideals were changed by the brutality of the Spanish civil war.

“What would it take / for your world to shake / and to disturb your soul / and make you believe in something other than that what you have?” sings frontman Matthew Whitehouse. As stirring as words are – you’re going to find in the albums released this year – the bigger problem is not the song itself but rather who are going to take to this song, or not. ‘Fair Stood the Wind’, which the Heartbreaks previewed at their support slot at Fierce Panda’s 19th birthday party slamdown last year headlined by their mates the Crookes (scroll down the review and you’ll see live video of the song), is a gorgeously tender ballad with sad guitar appropriate for the words, which I found in this one particularly painful. The repeated lyrics speaking of “the obsession of the moment” for Kondras: unrequited love.

Then there are the moments that make you scratch your head. The tempo picks up slightly with ‘Bittersweet’, with underlying funkiness I never would have expected from the Heartbreaks. An unexpected plus. Later, the softness and sadness of ‘Fair Stood the Wind’ is strangely followed up by the mess that is ‘Man Overboard’, a lackadaisical hoedown. It’s a clear misstep, unless they were purposely trying to take the edge off the previous song?

You have to wonder how this all came about, if in the same exact album they can write something like ‘Rome’, a sweeping beauty with handclap flourishes and uplifting guitar you want to hug close to your chest, it’s so stunning. Maybe the problem with ‘We May Yet Stand a Chance’ is its lack of focus. The Heartbreaks should be commended for wanting to bring up social issues in pop and taking the chance to do so, but I have less faith that the casual music fan will be willing to sit still through this 39-minute album.

6/10

The Heartbreaks’ sophomore album ‘We May Yet Stand a Chance’ will be out next Monday, the 2nd of June, on Nusic Sounds. Catch the band gigging tonight at London Oslo. Below is the band’s trailer for the album with a clip of ‘Paint the Town Beige’.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N34DdUZZnPA[/youtube]

 

Single Review: The Heartbreaks – Absolved

 
By on Thursday, 8th May 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

The more time I spend in the North, the more I come to fully embrace the Northerner’s way of living. After this extended interview with Boy Jumps Ship of Newcastle at Liverpool Sound City last week, it was impressed on me further on the Northern musician’s commitment to honesty, hard work and no compromise. This is also true of Morecambe band the Heartbreaks, whose musical evolution we’ve been eyeing and keeping close tabs on here at TGTF Towers since the release of the epic-sounding ‘¡No Pasarán!’ last autumn.

‘Absolved’ is their next single coming out in a few weeks, following on from single ‘Hey, Hey Lover’ that dropped in February. The man himself Steve Lamacq famously announced on his 6music programme 3 months ago when the group were live in session with him at Western House that if the new song did not make it onto the channel’s playlist, he’d resign from the BBC. Them’s fighting words, Lammo! While ‘Absolved’ also exhibits quite a bit of bombast in sound that was first witnessed in the big reveal of ‘¡No Pasarán!’, the lyrics and the promo video that was released to the wild Tuesday night are even more impressive.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Cydag_Nvi8[/youtube]

When you queue up the video, out of a blinding white light comes four nattily-dressed figures that the band themselves quite self-deprecatingly note as “The four best dancers at St. Bernadette’s (with the worst reputations)”. (North West wit, that is.) Like the Beatles in 1963, they sure clean up nice. Dressed with red bowties and silver foil blazers, the gold lame suit-wearing Elvis would have certainly have approved of their ostentatious outfits. The Heartbreaks take full advantage of the’60s r&b groove stompathon they’ve concocted for ‘Absolved’ with what I am sure was a carefully choreographed dance move sequence replete with arm and hand flourishes not seen since the Temptations and the Four Tops. In a way, though, I find the video may detract from the actual meaning of the song, which was able to delve further into after the band kindly sent the full lyrics to me while I’ve been on holiday in Sheffield.

Not surprisingly for a band who prides themselves on being a pop group, ‘Absolved’ is a love song on the surface; however, true to form when it comes to those witty Lancastrians, there is a deeper undercurrent: depression. From the word go, Matthew Whitehouse’s singing of drummer Joe Kondras’ lyrics manages to distill how loneliness feels when you’re emotionally disconnected to a depressed partner: “I feel winter / in the apparent warmth of your embrace / and desperation / lingers around this empty space”. As the song goes on to the pre-chorus, Whitehouse sings of understanding feeling blue and suicidal because he’s felt it before himself (“you’re not the only one who’s ever felt this way / you live like you’re waiting to die”) and there is a feeling of helplessness because he fully understands what she is going through, having been there at the lowest of lows before. But at the same time he recognises he cannot change her mind: when someone is clinically depressed and has not sought out professional help, it’s near impossible to convince them of anything positive. You can say it’s a nice day when the sun’s shining outside, but all that person sees is darkness.

He wishes that things were different, or at least were back to a happier time, asking, “why don’t you give living a try?” But deep down, he’s aware his efforts are for nowt. It’s interesting how in this song, Kondras’ concerns are squarely on his partner, how he’s dealing with his own guilt in not being able to help her and how her pain affects him badly. ‘Absolved’ is in direct contrast to the Crookes‘When You’re Fragile’ (from April 2014’s ‘Soapbox’), another song in which both people in a relationship have bonded over depression, but writer Daniel Hopewell strangely and somewhat callously revels in his partner’s sorrow (“if it don’t hurt, it ain’t worthwhile / I love you most when you’re fragile”) with no interest in really helping the situation.

The crux, then, of writer Kondras’ use of the word ‘Absolved’ as the title and in the song is a less literal translation of the Biblical washing away of one’s sins and instead of him wanting to wash himself of himself of this situation where he cannot help here and he has also failed her as a friend and lover, as best explained in the chorus:

Absolved I am,
From the guilt of all the feelings,
That you don’t understand,
“Absolved” I cry,
From the guilt of all the feelings,
That hit me when I catch your eye.

Incredibly catchy? Yes. Emotionally charged? Yes. Massive in sound? Yes. All in all, a brilliant single and quite possibly the best song to be released in 2014. No wonder Lammo was willing to put his job on the line for this song.

9.5/10

‘Absolved’, the Heartbreaks’ forthcoming single, is due out on the 26th of May. Second album ‘We May Yet Stand a Chance’ follows a week later, on the 2nd of June.

 

Video of the Moment #1430: The Heartbreaks

 
By on Monday, 20th January 2014 at 6:00 pm
 

Over the weekend, Morecambe indie poppers The Heartbreaks released their latest promo, for upcoming single ‘Hey, Hey Lover’ out on the 17th of February. It is a move back to usual Heartbreaks form after another new single was released in October 2013, ‘¡No Pasarán!’. (Martin reviewed it here.) The Twitterverse has gone gaga over the lads’ haircuts; see if you agree by watching the video below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-5X9frX75U[/youtube]

 

TGTF Holiday Giveaway / WIN a CD and t-shirt prize pack from the Heartbreaks

 
By on Wednesday, 4th December 2013 at 4:00 pm
 

If this interview I did with The Heartbreaks in London back in May is any indication, the band’s second album is shaping up to be in fantastic shape for release in the new year. In October, they revealed new single ‘¡No Pasarán!’, glowingly reviewed by our Martin here. Off the back of the single release excitement and two rammed free shows in Manchester and London in November, the band have two additional dates in January scheduled: Thursday the 23rd of January at London Madame JoJo’s and Saturday the 25th of January at Manchester Deaf Institute.

The lads are in a giving mood this holiday season and we’re pleased to have a Heartbreaks prize pack up for grabs to give to a lucky TGTF reader. The winner will receive a copy of the lads’ debut album ‘Funtimes’ and their choice of either a ‘Fun Times’ or ‘¡No Pasarán!’ t-shirt like the one sported by drummer Joe Kondras below.

Joe Heartbreaks No Pasaran shirt

Want to win? Fill out the contest form below with your full name and your email address. Then to make sure you’re not a robot, correctly answer this question: what seaside town are the band from? (This is easy, right?) Get your entries in by noon British time on Monday the 9th of December. We’ll choose a winner from all the correct entries received then. Good luck! Please note: this contest is open to UK residents only, as the prize will be posted. To make this fair for everyone, all duplicate entries will be discarded.

This contest is now closed and the winner has been contacted.

 

Single Review: The Heartbreaks – ¡No Pasarán!

 
By on Tuesday, 22nd October 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

Lithe, lovelorn Lancastrians The Heartbreaks are back (not that they ever went away – The Heartbreaks are surely one of 2013’s hardest-working bands), with the first single from their forthcoming sophomore album. ‘¡No Pasarán!’ not only has a Spanish title (which translates as “they shall not pass”), it lovingly mimics the gimmicks of Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti western soundtracks: castanets, muted trumpet, and even his trademark stabs of percussive bass vocal. Although the phrase “¡No Pasarán!” has a history of political connotations, particularly from its use in the Spanish Civil War, as far as can be discerned, this is still a love song, perhaps with a struggle at its heart. Despite the genre stylings, it still has the essential Heartbreaks songwriting chops, and the earnest vocal couldn’t be mistaken for anyone but Matthew Whitehouse.

The new album doesn’t have a release date, or a title, but there are glimmerings that the band might be gearing up to unveil it – there’s a couple of free shows in London and Manchester coming up next month. Unfortunately they’re both sold out, but no doubt a number of new songs will be showcased there. The PR twaddle frames their new material as a “riposte to the all-conquering Age of Beige the UK currently finds itself in” – quite how a country with such a vibrant music and arts scene (of which The Heartbreaks are a notable, but still small part) can be accused of being beige is quite unfathomable. Perhaps they should get out more. But that over-excitable press release aside, this release moves The Heartbreaks’ story on nicely, and bodes well for the forthcoming album.

9/10

You can download the Heartbreaks’ ‘¡No Pasarán!’ for free by signing up for their mailing list in the widget below. You can also stream the song below as well. We’ll keep you posted on the band’s second album release date as soon as it becomes available.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6fZJwl3q9Q[/youtube]

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

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