Tag Archives: The Heartbreaks

The Heartbreaks ‘Funtimes’ / Two Wounded Birds ‘Two Wounded Birds’ – Review

14 Jul

In December 2010 I made a list of bands to watch out for in 2011. Two Wounded Birds and The Heartbreaks made the top 5 of that list but in actual fact they did little of substance that year. They released the odd single and embarked on the odd tour, but its only now, 18 months later, that we get to listen to their debut albums. To be honest, this delay put the brakes on any momentum they had, meaning the albums, ‘Two Wounded Birds’ and ‘Funtimes’ respectively, have received little of the fanfare I expected and hoped for. That doesn’t mean that these debuts, now they have arrived, aren’t up to scratch (they are) it’s just that they won’t be as fanatically received as they may have been.

As I said of Citizens in my review of their album, these bands would have been snapped up by major labels a few years ago, as their sound has that commercial indie vibe that was all the rage back then. The Heartbreaks hark back to the overcast 1980’s whilst Two Wounded Birds influences go even further back to surf rock, Jerry Lee Lewis and power pop. Throughout there is a pop sensibility and a focus on catchy melodies that make these two very exciting and listenable records.

Two Wounded Birds are as wounded as their name suggests; their broken hearts being at the core of these songs. ‘My Lonesome’ and ‘No Goodbyes’ are dripping with equal parts melody and melancholy whilst ‘Growing’ and ‘The Outer World’ are overwhelmingly downbeat and despairing. There literally couldn’t be anymore reverb on these guitars, and Johnny Danger’s vocals twang with agony and sadness. They can turn it on like a tap though and elsewhere they are decidedly optimistic and playful, as on new single ‘If Only We Remain” and the euphoric ‘Together Forever’. Mostly though, Two Wounded Birds’ tend towards the tragic.

Likewise, The Heartbreaks deal almost exclusively with heartbreak (fittingly), and they know the best way to express such pain is with jangly guitars and sticky basslines. Orange Juice man Edwyn Collins produced one of these tracks and his fingerprints are over more than just that; The Heartbreaks share his band’s musical DNA of funk, punk, indie and Northern soul. Reading the song titles (‘Jealous Don’t You Know, ‘Liar my Dear’) might lead you to suspect that The Smiths are an equally big influence, and you wouldn’t be wrong there either. The lead singer has a theatrical, over-the-top voice that channels Morrissey one minute and Dylan the next but is never less than distinctively his own.

Both groups are aware that pain is magnified when you’re trapped in a small town cage, and both groups deal with the frustration of being young, hopeless and stuck in such a rut. On ‘To Be Young’ Two Wounded Birds articulate the inherent contradiction of being young as succulently, in one sentence, as any poet or lyricist I can think of – ‘There’s nothing to do, there’s too much to do’. Likewise, The Heartbreaks make a lot of their hometown Morecambe, simultaneously enraptured by its bleak seaside romance and bored stiff by the lack of things to do. ‘In a town as small as this one, there’s no escaping you’ they sing on the record’s closing track, whilst elsewhere they get overwhelmed by nostalgia and loss.

The best moments on both these albums are not new to us. The Heartbreaks finest hour by a country mile, ‘I Didn’t Think It Would Hurt To Think of You’, was first released nearly 2 years ago, and the new production its given here doesn’t add anything particularly new. Despite its familiarity, the song closes the album in a fitting fashion, as melodramatic as it is irresistibly joyous. Two Wounded Birds, on the other hand, chose to open their album with their two best known songs, a double punch of ‘Together Forever’ and ‘My Lonesome’. Again, it’s a bit of a risk including such old material, but when the songs are this good It would be a shame not to include them.

Two Wounded Birds and The Heartbreaks have taken their time releasing these albums but there’s no denying it’s been worth the wait. Not only have they matured into two of the finest young live bands in the country, they’ve now released possibly the two most convincing debut albums of the year. Over the course of their albums neither band drops the ball, and despite sticking to fairly rigid (and old-fashioned) formulas, they never sound tired or cliched. Pop music is a careful balancing act between joy and misery, sweet and sour; it’s a genre riddled with contrasts and contradictions. The best bands are the ones that can meet these contrasts and contradictions head on, with excitment and enthusiasm, and both The Heartbreaks and Two Wounded Birds do. These are reflective, searching and often melancholy records, but the songs are melodic, bright, catchy and therefore never depressing or pessimistic. Pop music at its best, in other words.

Two Wounded Birds ‘Two Wounded Birds’ – 8/10

The Heartbreaks ‘Funtimes’ – 8.5/10

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New Album Releases

12 Apr

Way, way back in January 2011 I compiled a list of bands that I predicted big things for that year. Some of those acts went on to have great success (The Vaccines and James Blake for example) but a few took a while to get those debuts finished. Well now, 15 months later, I have news of new releases for some of these acts.

Totally Extinct Dinosaurs will finally release his debut, ‘Trouble’, on June 11th. HERE is the video for his latest brilliant single.

Two Wounded Birds will release their debut album on June 22nd through Holiday Records, and you can watch the video for their lates single HERE.

Fixers will release ‘We’ll be the Moon’ on the 21st May, it includes the song ‘Floating Up’ which you can hear HERE.

The Heartbreaks will release their debut, ‘Funtimes’ (produced by Edwyn Collins) on 7th May, and you can see their latest video HERE.

Kindness quietly released their debut last month, it’s called ‘World You Need a Change’ and you can listen to the lead single below.

The Heartbreaks ‘Jealous Don’t You Know’

17 May

New single by those moody moaners, The Heartbreaks. They’re ‘Jealous Don’t You Know.’

The Heartbreaks – ‘I Didn’t Think It Would Hurt To Think Of You’

3 Sep