Offering fresh indie sounds, The Heartbreaks are a formidable proposition.
Matthew Horton 2012
The well-worn indie format of four blokes with guitars takes a few knocks these days – and goodness knows it usually deserves it – but there's not much wrong that a few decent tunes can't fix. Impossibly fresh-faced Morecambe quartet The Heartbreaks have the cure in spades.
After three years together this is their debut album, and it comes with the robust confidence that dues earned supporting Morrissey, The Killers and other solid pop-rock names will bring. The four of them claim a love of Motown and Northern Soul and a shared yen for romance – in short, anything that will separate them from the herd. But away from the impeccable box-ticking influences it's their zest and gift for melody that make The Heartbreaks stand out.
Babyshambles and Holloways producer Tristan Ivemy takes the reins but he's dealing with tighter, brighter charges here. 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.