2011 gab die Band, zu der nun auch Barney JC (Gitarre) und Davin Roman (Schlagzeug) gestoßen waren, bekannt, dass sie sich weiterentwickelt hätten und nun Audioheart heißen würden. Mit "Control", "Lent" und "Moscow/Agoraphobia" wurden in den letzten Monaten weitere Singles veröffentlicht, die nun alle (inkl. der Gadsdens-Single) auf dem ersten Album "Punch" zusammengefasst werden.
Zusammen mit dem Produzenten Danton Supple (Coldplay, Morrissey) präsentieren Autoheart feinen, oftmals balladesken Piano-/Indiepop zwischen Keane, Coldplay und Tom Odell. Von den Singles hat es mir vor allem "Agoraphobia" angetan, dessen Video ein wenig an "Bittersweet Symphony" erinnert, nur dass Richard Ashcroft hier durch ein Kaninchen ersetzt wurde:
Punch is a pop album. Not like One Direction do pop, not indie pop, but the purest kind. It is an ensemble piece, where Jody’s vocals, Simon’s piano, Barney’s guitar, and David’s drums share space, wrapping around each other to craft some of the catchiest, most beautiful music you’ll hear in a long while. Punch is an album about frailty and disappointment; if you’re planning on having your heart broken this year, this is the album you’ll want to have on standby.
Without wishing to downgrade what the other members of the band do, the standout element of Punch - besides those beautifully crafted hooks, of course - is Jody Gadsden’s haunting vocal. Sounding like a cross between Tracy Chapman and Anthony Hegarty, it’s astonishing how well he is able to transition between a strong, belting sound and a tender, delicate delivery.
While the album is stunningly consistent, it does have high points. The first of these is former single, ‘Control’. A staccato drum, a hypnotic piano loop, a lyric concerning the end of something and the regret that accompanies it. He’ll be ok though. People are always ok in the end. Right?
(echoes and dust)
For between a pleasant opening batch of tunes and an equally moderate back four, there lie four songs of such utter brilliance, they put all those in front and behind in the shade. It’s easy to pick out Lent as a highlight; it’s catchy and it rollicks along in a synth-pop polka groove a fair few beats more lively than the tracks before. But there’s more to it than that – it’s that for the first time on the album, five tracks in, one of the backing instruments finally gets to play something you can hum. Before that synth hook, they all strum and pluck and plink and plonk, but rarely stamp any kind of identity on the song.
Moscow, the second song of real quality, keeps up the pace with a little bit of George Michael‘s Faith, a Bo Diddley riff or two, and a lot of Dexys. Then they go all Adele on us with piano ballad The Sailor Song, in which dextrous vocalist Jody Gadsden’s occasional tendency to imitate Antony Hegarty becomes most apparent. But it doesn’t spoil what is a truly affecting song with a melody that rises in effortless curves like vultures in an updraft. And lastly, Hungover In The City Of Dust brings the quartet to a close in the most downbeat manner imaginable – but the final crescendo, though one of several on the album, packs a real emotional punch.
Debut albums are often beasts with long gestation periods, over which time the chief creative partners in the project can fall in love, have their hearts broken, their legs broken, heal them both, vote Labour in the by-election and Tory at the general, and so forth. But this idiosyncrasy often results in a more genuine, human emotional statement than the constricting single themes of hurriedly-written later works, and Punch is no exception. Even just within that fantastic foursome, there’s room for any mood.
The opening piano of ‘Anniversary’ lasts only for a few bars before Gadsden’s voice and the first of many catchy drum beats makes things interesting. The perfect way to start then, and the beginning of a flow that shows how tracklisting choices can contribute to the listening experience. ‘Factories’ keeps the feelgood factor high on the back of piano riffs and fast-paced - if awkward - lyrical delivery (“Do you recall with a vigour? / With our pistol we can trigger / We can violate the liquor on the floor.”). ‘Control’ keeps you hooked with its low piano melody, before the fantastic and simple ‘Agoraphobia’ brings a little melancholic feeling, building slowly with Gadsden’s androgynous, almost pleading, vocals.
That one song is an anomaly in the first half, the ebullient ‘Lent’ returns to the party, and the jolly take on relationship troubles that is ‘Moscow’ continues the fun. Actually about four years old, ‘The Sailor Song’ pumps the beat and ushers in a more contemplative section, with the aching ‘Hungover In The City Of Dust’ and ‘Santa Fe’ two more stand outs.
The most promising thing about Punch is it feels a complete piece of work, with no song wasted. It’s in turn radio friendly, festival ready, at times intimate, and always interesting. A truly fine start then.
(The Digital Fix)