Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Album Review: Love Against Capture by Heavy Heart (by Richard Mair)

After dropping one of my favourite albums of last year, Nantes based Heavy Heart have wasted little time in following it up with another collection of anthemic Timeshares-esque punk rock bangers. Often such a short turnaround time can mean a reduction in quality; and with such a strong album to follow up to Heavy Heart have a lot riding on this to capitalise on the momentum they’ve generated following last years “Distance”. Thankfully they’ve not only managed to deliver a worthy successor, they’ve come back more refined, armed with sharper songwriting and increased musicality based on what has been a very busy 12 months of touring. “Love Against Capture” fully delivers on expectations and them some…

If “Distance” and its predecessor “Discoveries” seemed very one dimensional in that the band were turned up to 11 on full attack throughout the two release, the growth of the band is instantly apparent on opener “New Light”. It’s slow, with a gentle guitar melody over a subtle beat, allowing the vocals of Louis to take centre stage. It’s a proper slow burner, building layers and depth as the song progresses until the final stages of typical Heavy Heart gang vocals kick in. Whilst it is unmistakably Heavy Heart there is a clear progression on display, which is recognisable throughout the entire album. Whereas previous releases have seen them trying to fill space with sing-a-long vocals, here there is a conscious effort to display their musical ability and let their confidence in the songwriting take over. Clearly the songs benefit from this maturity as they seem fully formed and fleshed out; and also highly likely to sound brilliant in a live environment. The album itself also feels more cohesive, as opposed to a collection of fist in the air anthems this is much more a journey; think the development on show in the most recent Iron Chic opus, “You Can’t Stay Here” compared to “Not Like This”

Second and third tracks, “Magic Life” and “Fragments”, are more traditional fare. Faster, melodic gruff punk style tunes, with huge choruses and fist-in-the-air moments. “Magic Life” in particular is stunning, the introduction picking up immediately on the format of the previous song so that it instantly hooks you in. The opening trio work perfectly alongside each other, although “Fragments” does get slightly lost as a result of its placement next to the wonderful “Magic Life” and the fourth track “Winter Years”, which is equally as stunning. That’s not to say it’s a filler, it is a good song in its own right but when Heavy Heart get it right they get it nigh on perfect. What this means is don’t overlook Fragments by the instantly classic songs around it!

“Winter Years” is gorgeous. From the straining vocals of the verses to Aurelien’s brilliant bass line and Antoine’s rolling drums, it delivers on every level. It makes best use of the multiple vocalists; Lylian’s gruffer approach creating greater depth when needed, all interspersed with some great gang vocals and melodic guitars building to a brilliant climax with a superb breakdown at the end of the song. Heavy Heart have said this is a pop record and this is clearly a killer pop song!

“Out of Place” is another song that shows some degree of growth, the melodic closing stages reminiscent of say pop punk / emo bands like Signals Midwest; again proving that whilst previously they might have built songs around a big chorus this feels much more mature and melodic. At almost 5 minutes, it’s possibly the longest song they’ve written but it never feels like such an epic against what is essentially a collection of 3 minute pop songs.

Reminding us that they still do these big choruses, “Holding On” is truly fantastic. In fairness it’s all build up; the fast beat and driving guitars leading up to the fist-in-the-air, chant-like gang vocal chorus. This is the type of song they built their reputation on and they’re still one of the best around. It’s impossible not to have a smile on your face as the song blasts through to its conclusion. Equally “No Bounds” is just as melodic, with the pop punk guitars through the first verses making way for an early Weezer-esque closing third. Again it’s just a simple song but performed brilliantly.

The final third of the album starts with “Separ/Azione” which will leave more gruff punk fans happy. It’s got an underlying modern Hot Water Music feel to it; the drumming coupled with the guitar work at times sounding so much like “Bury Your Idols” off of last year’s “Light it Up”. Anyone who saw our top 10 lists of last year will appreciate how much I liked that album so this is a great benchmark for this particular track to be marked against.

The closing duo of “Truth” and “Undisguised” end the album perfectly. The former a real sing-a-long, again capitalising on the vocal styles within the band and helping build those shout out loud moments. If the album had finished there it would have been great; instead we’re treated to a gorgeous little acoustic number. It’s a completely stripped down version of the band. Everything is in the right place from the beautiful melody work to the gang vocals haunting the background. It’s a fantastic closer akin to what The Menzingers successfully managed with “Livin’ Ain’t Easy” off of last year’s “After the Party”.

The one song I can’t place is “Geography”; I like it but it lacks flair compared to the rest of the album, it’s good but not great, perhaps a little too formulaic. It’s certainly no misstep but there are far better songs on offer that it does stick out as lacking that something special and that genuinely is the only gripe I have with the album – the production is spot on, the balance of material to appeal to existing fans and the elements of growth and development are near perfect. It’s amazing that in such a short time frame, coupled with the touring they have done, they’ve managed to achieve what few bands in the DIY world can by putting out an album some 17 months after its predecessor that delivers on so many levels.

Heavy Heart remain one of my favourite discoveries of recent years. Over the last almost 2 years Departures has been on constant rotation, Love Against Capture will inevitably be joining it!

Stream and download Love Against Capture here:

Like Heavy Heart here:

This review was written by Richard Mair.

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