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The Wildhearts - 21st Century Love Songs (Album Review)

Wednesday, 15 September 2021 Written by Simon Ramsay

Imagine being locked inside a washing machine as the spin cycle kicks in, while having 10 different albums playing in your headphones at the same time, and loving every dizzying second of it without quite understanding why. That’s exactly how this thrillingly rambunctious newbie from The Wildhearts will initially make you feel, until repeated plays reveal that it’s actually one of the most well crafted rock albums of the year.

Where 2019’s career-reviving ‘Renaissance Men’ found Ginger, CJ, Danny and Ritch rebooting The Wildhearts’ brand of punk-fuelled, anthemic rock ‘n’ roll menace after a 10 year hiatus, ‘21st Century Love Songs’ expands on that rebirth by shaking up structural songwriting norms with a wilful sense of adventure. 

The band gleefully charge from one musical style to the next—the title track thrashes around like a pitbull in a blender before slipping into boogie-flavoured verses that explode into a chorus so frenetic it will scare the snot out of most punk upstarts.  

Institutional Submission, meanwhile, is even crazier. An all out attack on the faux bourgeois, it hurls out a barbed metal riff, slabs of hardcore fury and enough jolting shifts to leave even the most accomplished prog musician dazed and confused.

After the success of ‘Renaissance Men,’ Ginger said he wanted this album to showcase the band’s ‘subtlety.’  That’s the wrong word.  What ‘21st Century Love Songs’ accentuates is the band’s dynamism. For while it seems ideas are being hurled around like grenades by a drunken octopus, Remember These Days and Sleepaway prove there’s method to such creative madness.

The former is a backwards looking anthem full of heart, its cheese-free nostalgia encapsulated in a youthful arena rock hook. Further accentuating the song's time-travelling-with-perspective reminiscence, a passage that fittingly nods to The Jam’s  Eton Rifles, followed by a vintage Brian Wilson melodious line, seals the deal as Ginger sings “through ageing greys we’ll remember these days”. 

The latter, meanwhile, is about overcoming lingering heartache and sagely uses each musical moment—sun-kissed refrain, Ramones chant-along, delirious rockabilly swing section—as a way of reflecting the narrative journey towards a brighter future where new love can be embraced.

In spite of venting ire with lacerating bursts of acerbic wit (You Do You), cathartic vengefulness (Splitter) and enough expletives to make Shaun Ryder blush (the whole album), there’s a positive bent to tracks that are so excited to begin they practically punch the previous numbers out the way before bursting forth. Sort Your Fucking Shit Out, in particular, is full of hope, passion and humour, with Ginger seemingly in a very good place after his well documented mental health issues.  

‘Renaissance Men’ elbowed its way onto many an end of year poll and this follow up, although not as instant, might end up doing the same. If not due to the record’s musical strength, then because it will rock up and beat the living crap out of any album that dares stand in its way. While sporting a big mischievous smile, naturally.

The Wildhearts Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed September 15 2021 - WOLVERHAMPTON KKs Steel Mill
Thu September 16 2021 - GLOUCESTER Gloucester Guildhall
Fri September 17 2021 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Boiler Shop
Sat September 18 2021 - LEEDS Leeds Uni Stylus
Mon September 20 2021 - GALASHIELS MacArts
Tue September 21 2021 - STIRLING Tolbooth
Wed September 22 2021 - ABERDEEN Lemon Tree
Fri September 24 2021 - SHEFFIELD Foundry
Sat September 25 2021 - SOUTHAMPTON Engine Rooms
Fri October 15 2021 - NORTHAMPTON Roadmender
Sun October 17 2021 - BRISTOL THE FLEECE
Sat November 06 2021 - BARNSTAPLE Factory
Thu November 11 2021 - SOUTH SHIELDS Hedworth Hall
Sun December 05 2021 - BUCKLEY Tivoli
Fri December 10 2021 - KENDAL Brewery Arts Centre
Sat December 11 2021 - STOCKTON Georgian Theatre
Mon December 13 2021 - READING Sub 89
Wed December 15 2021 - NOTTINGHAM Rock City

Compare & Buy The Wildhearts Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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