on 20 August 2012
Morecambe boys The Heartbreaks may be a new band, but they plough a wonderfully nostalgic furrow on their debut album, Funtimes. Their stock in trade is the kind of maddeningly catchy, jangly guitar pop that was all over the radio 18-20 years ago - one listen to this album and it's the early 90s again. Gene, The Bluetones and Teenage Fanclub are in the charts, and everyone is waiting patiently for the second La's album (I think we can probably give up now). 20 years on, this sound is like a breath of fresh air - emphasising musicianship over button-pushing, songwriting over image, substance over style (not that they don't have plenty of the latter too).
The whole album is full of hooks - tracks such as Delay, Delay and Remorseful have brief, one or two line verses, preferring to save their energy for big, singalong choruses. It's a style that works well. They have a pretty nifty way with a lyric too - "When I'm feeling wistful, I will head down to the shore," croons vocalist Matt Whitehouse on Delay, Delay, "And dwell on things I know I shouldn't care for any more". Whitehouse's voice is another strength, switching from Lloyd Cole-esque baritone to a lively higher register seamlessly.
Stand out tracks for me are the aforementioned Delay, Delay and Remorseful, as well as Polly and I Didn't Think It Would Hurt To Think Of You, but the whole album is a delight. Welcome back, early 90s, I've missed you. Fun times indeed.
on 13 August 2012
If you like the melodic guitar lines of Johnny Marr and the wry wit and singing charm of the mighty Morrissey, you should buy this album immediately!! Delay Delay is a corking pop song with stunning harmonies and catchy hooks, Polly shrieks with ripping unison bends and I Didn't Think It Would Hurt To Think Of You showcases everything that is brilliant about The Heartbreaks - simply brilliant music that offers something much more spirited, dynamic and poetic than a lot of other 4 piece guitar bands. A must-have and a real grower, trust me!!
on 26 October 2013
There was always something slightly unfair about Morecambe making the top three in Sam Jordison and Dan Kieran's roll-call of the UK's `Crap Towns', a searingly vitriolic - if entertaining - compendium of the worst places in the country to live.
Okay so the piers have gone, the fairground has gone, the swimming stadium has gone and the Winter Gardens sits derelict, an uninvestable proposition glowering across the promenade. Everywhere you look there are sad reminders of the past, but what's left is quite charming, and it affords the opportunity to daydream for a while down by the sea...
To me, that is Morecambe's appeal. It clings onto the past, it dares to dream of a return to those glory days, and it might look forlorn but there's still actually plenty to see if you have the imagination. It just needs somebody to stick up for it.
Enter local boys and band-on-the-ascent The Heartbreaks. If it's gloriously dreamy seaside infused indie rock and roll you're after, this fourpiece have it in (buckets and) spades, and this debut long-player serves up a faultless collection of songs dripping with the soul of Morecambe. That's what makes The Heartbreaks more than just a band - everything about them, and their album, from the lyrics to the sleeve art, reflects the charming Englishness and faded romanticism of this quintessential seaside town they forgot to close down.
It wouldn't work everywhere - though I could cite Pulp's narrative of Sheffield as another example of where it does. Morecambe and The Heartbreaks go together in just as perfect a way. You could say that they carry echoes of the Smiths, the Jam, Elvis Costello... Aztec Camera on a good day... but why would you when The Heartbreaks are so out there as a force in their own right? And for all the nods to the past, this is definitely a band for the future.
Personally I think it's quite rare to find a true five-star album, let alone a five-star debut, but from the minute I put Funtimes on I was sold. Fan favourite Liar, My Dear opens the proceedings with typical lyrical wit, followed by the glorious should've-been-a-hit lead single Delay, Delay. Hand on Heart is another classic piece of pop on an album stuffed full of potential singles, before the band head into spaghetti western territory on Winter Gardens. And so it continues. Polly is another lovely sing-along tune, Gorgeous is euphorically anthemic, and I Didn't Think It Would Hurt To Think Of You the perfect heart-wrenched but ever upbeat finale. By the time it's all over (ten tracks in just over half an hour) you're left with a big smile on your face and longing for more, willing this band to get the attention and success they deserve.
"Here we are, sat in our little town... We'll be the pride of it someday" muses Matthew Whitehouse on 'Delay, Delay'.
Looking round at their homecoming gig last Christmas, that day may just have come.