Die erste Vorladung (V)
In an album that rattles by, 10 songs in a compact 34 minutes, there's barely a suggestion of slack as each track comes bounding out, hook intact, delivery committed. Singer Matthew Whitehouse is a particular revelation, a slip of a lad who sounds like Elvis Costello with an extra pair of lungs, or Roddy Frame at Somewhere in My Heart full-throttle.
The Scots postcard indie of Aztec Camera and their old labelmates is a fair reference. On Remorseful, for one, Edwyn Collins and Orange Juice loom large in the keening vocals and scratchy white-boy funk. And then you find out Collins is on additional production duties. He's even there when he's not there, first in the flying licks and dry wit of Liar, My Dear and later on the fantastic, skyscraping Polly, where Collins jangle meets Coxon spark.
But the guitarist here is Ryan Wallace. Remember the name – he slides effortlessly from Johnny Marr crystalline jangle on Delay, Delay to John Squire riffage on Jealous, Don't You Know, covering all points in between in a sustained performance that never lets the album drag. All forces joined, The Heartbreaks are a formidable proposition.
Themes of misery and ache do run heavy throughout ‘Funtimes’ but they’re polished with a glam varnish. The 60s girl group sweetness of closing track ‘I Didn’t Think It Would Hurt To Think Of You’ deals with the pain of infatuation whilst the Suede-ish shimmer of ‘Polly’ contemplates escaping troubled relationships: vocalist Matthew Kondras’ cry is similar to Brett Anderson’s. Elsewhere, producers Tristan Ivemy (Babyshambles) and Edwyn Collins’ thumbprints are clearly visible. ‘Remorseful,’ for example, combines hints of Babyshambles’ crunch with the swing of ‘Rip It Up’ era Orange Juice.
Their most obvious influence, unsurprisingly, is the Smiths. Kondras even manages to sneak a cheeky reference to the band through the ‘Hand In Glove’ ring of ‘Save Our Souls’ (“We can walk in the setting of our favourite Smiths song”). One of their oldest tracks remains the most refreshing though. The Orange Juice meets Marr-esque jangle of ‘Liar, My Dear’ (about rainfall ruining these lads’ day) reads like a seaside tour hosted by Mozza himself: think a Smiths’ track that the Eighties legends have never written and you’ve hit the bulls eye. There’s a poetic beauty about it all where the band manages to avoid coming off as pretentious or show off-ish. It’s because of these moments that - despite ‘Winter Gardens,’ ‘Jealous, Don’t You Know’ and ‘Gorgeous’ being the album’s duller tracks - many a fun time can certainly be had.
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