The Heartbreaks - Funtimes

by Miz DeShannon Rating:10 Release Date:2012-05-07

It's practically 12 months ago to the day that I interviewed The Heartbreaks and they promised me (and everyone else, of course) that their album would be out within a year. Give or take a week or so, they've lived up to that promise. And it's something that these guys always seem to have done - live up to promises.

They've never portrayed themselves as anything other than four lads from Morecambe writing and performing a stack of songs inspired by things they like. There's no pretence, no cooler-than-thou attitude, no styling, no big-wig direction on what they should and shouldn't do, everything you see is what you'd have got if you'd known them from the start. It's not been made for them. And they have now made the music industry happen for them. It's eating out of the palms of their pretty Northern hands.

Debut album 'Funtimes' is a consistent homage to their history on the music scene in the North West, and to their home-town of Morecambe, which they are incredibly inspired by and proud of (see track four, 'Winter Gardens'). Presenting ten tracks of retro-indie, full of jangly Rickenbacker guitars and some beautiful harmonies, the lads haven't let go of songs they wrote and played out even as their previous incarnation Seaside Riot.

Tracks like 'Jealous Don't You Know' have been tweaked a little here and there, maybe an extra guitar piece in 'Liar, My Dear' as obviously technical ability has improved, but all-in-all it's a production perfect version of songs I heard on a demo CD handed to me in the street by the inimitable Kersal Jay not even three years ago. And The Heartbreaks' rollercoaster has even got Edwyn Collins hooked; he's been working with them on the album. Now that's a good stamp of prestige right there.

New additions like single 'Delay, Delay' has all the tangy pop of their original efforts, and singer Matt's voice bounces from his signature high-pitched cute choir-boy sound to a new-found deep sultryness. Just over 30 seconds in to 'Remorseful', and you've been hit with a low-key intro, drum-drop (another signature sound), a smooth bassline and more vocal harmonies. Lovely. 'Hand on Heart' is the usual formulaic verse-chorus-middle-eight, with soaring vocal harmonies reminiscent of Phil Spector's girl groups.

Seeing as the band are inspired by everything from The Supremes to Jesus & Mary Chain, to Grimsby's own Orphan Boy (now, sadly, broken up), each track echoes something from these and more. The Heartbreaks are constantly likened to The Smiths, but no-one could ever be as dour and sarcastic as Morrissey, and throughout this album of love songs, reminiscing songs and emotional outpourings, there's still not a distressed or upset word in sight.

On a professional level, the writing, recording and production on 'Funtimes' evokes everything you see of The Heartbreaks when they put on a live show - enthusiasm, fun, intelligence and sensitivity. On a personal level, it's just made me smile a lot. It's a shame they don't end it with an Eric Morecambe track as they did at their album launch at home-from-home The Ruby Lounge. And what a launch that was.

Ending with two great golden oldies, 'Save Our Souls' and 'I Didn't Think It Would Hurt to Think of You' (which includes a departure from bass-playing for Deaks - he adds some retro-rap midway through), Funtimes is a really strong debut album, and made even better by the fact that not an ounce of it is manufactured. A rare thing these days. However proud of being from Sheffield The Arctic Monkeys are, Alex Turner still changes his image to suit every given trend as often as I have breakfast. Which is every day.

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