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The Wildhearts - 'Renaissance Men' Album Review


1. Dislocated

2. Let 'Em Go

3. The Renaissance Men

4. Fine Art Of Deception

5. Diagnosis

6. My Kinda Movie

7. Little Flower

8. Emergency (Fentanyl Babylon)

9. My Side Of The Bed

10. Pilo Erection

I don't know what I was doing 10 years ago today, but I was probably listening to 'Chutzpah!', the last album by The Wildhearts.

Yup, 10 years since the last album and, on many occasions during those 10 years, it's seemed like it would not only be the last one, but the LAST one! Ever.

Ginger's not been idle in the meantime, hell no, he's produced a body of work and many a live show, that most other artists would long to call a career. But Ginger does things a different way. For better or worse (spoiler alert, it's for better!) he does things his own way and it's led to this new release.

Us Ginger/Wildhearts fans have been teased about the possibility of a new album now and then over the years, but we've also learnt to accept that it probably wouldn't happen. Not because we didn't want another one, though 'Chutzpah!' would have been a pretty damn good full stop to The Wildhearts legacy.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge in the last 10 years, a lot music has been made, by various members of this line-up, that weren't involving each other. Not to mention the personal issues, internally and externally. But when this album was becoming a genuine, bona-fide reality, at least to outside of the band, it actually seemed to come about pretty quick.

The 'Renaissance Men' (Arriba!) aren't back. The Wildhearts are back. When I say that, I mean, for many (myself included), the definitive line-up, Ginger, CJ, Ritch and Danny. There have been a ton of line-up changes over the 30 years of the band, for various reasons, and yet there's been an incredibly high standard of albums, from which the new one has hints and reminders of here and there. But this aint a history lesson, it's not a band, or album living off past glories, this is about the new album and it's anything but stuck in the past.

There's genuine anger here, fire and aggression, it's in your face, it's a band who are ready to grab you by the collar to make sure you know that those 10 years are a bloody long time without The Wildhearts around and they are back.

Hell yea, they're back. This is a valid, fresh, brutal sounding album. Sure, those words may sound like cliches, but cliches are cliches for a reason (aaaaaand there's another one!). There are hints, here and there, of previous Wildhearts albums, but I can honestly say they've never sounded this good.

So the album itself then: you will have these songs and chorus' in your head after a listen or two, heard the first single yet, 'Disclocated' yet? Yea? So you know where I'm coming from then.

Want something a bit more anthemic, fist-pumping, full of joyous defiance? Maybe even throw a bit of Frank Turner in there too? Try 'Let 'Em Go' and tell me hairs aren't standing on end yet.

While we are on the subject of fist-pumping. And joy. And defiance. The title track is surely yet another crowd favourite to be. After all these years of Ginger, and various incarnations of the band, feeling compelled to pull out the 'favourites' at their live shows to please the fans, this new set of 10 songs will quickly establish themselves on the setlist, without an ounce of doubt.

There's typically blunt, to the point, lyrics on this album that Ginger has been known for over the years, but always done his own way. The Wildhearts songs have never been as simple as they sometimes sound, listen deeper, listen to those riffs, the time changes, the ideas in those songs over the years, then go back and do it all again while focussing on the lyrics. Then go seem them live. Ginger is one of this country's finest song-writers of the last 30 years.

He's also not averse to having a singalong of chorus of 'bullshit' when it suits! But it's perfectly appropriate given the subject matter on 'Fine Art Of Deception'.

Next up is 'Diagnosis'. Ginger's issues with mental health are not new, unfortunately the lack of help for those issues, for him and many, many others, isn't either. This will surely give you 6 minutes of therapy though. You like ACDC? You like The Wildhearts? (trick question!) You like the Sex Pistols? You Like Motorhead? Press play and turn it up. Loud. I said LOUD. Danny's bass sounds immense on this album, he's been long missed and that's with no disrespect to Jon and Scott. Coupled with Ritch, who is simply the perfect drummer for this band. There can surely be no argument that this is the line-up we can truly call The Wildhearts.

'My Kinda Movie' is reminiscent of something off of 'Earth Vs The Wildhearts'. As mentioned earlier, this album has hints of a few of past albums, this is understandable and not a bad thing at all, it's a blistering 3 and half minutes where you will definitely spill your pint if you haven't thrown it in the air already!

'Little Flower' is singalonga-CJ! His contribution gives the album a slight rest from the thunderous first 6 songs of this album, it's but a brief respite before.........

........'Emergency (Fentanyl Babylon)' . This is a 2 and a half minute Punk-driven rage at Big Pharma brought about by the death's of many 'names' from Fentanyl in recent times. Like I say, Ginger's angry and got plenty to say, but he wont forget the chorus' and riffs that make that message pill a lot easier to swallow, forgive my deliberate choice of words!

'My Side Of The Bed' conjures up a hint of 'Endless, Nameless' but then does a complete 180 with harmonies that Ginger/CJ have long since been known for and are delivered in spades here. A band that has so many differing elements, those harmonies sometimes seem at odds with such bone-crunching, tight, riffs, the aggression which seem at odds with the catchy chorus', which seem at odds with the nature of the lyrics. Like I say, Ginger does things his way.

'Pilo Erection' is a pumping finish to the 39 minutes of this album and will probably be one of the only songs that you will ever find yourself singing 'erect' to at gigs!

We've been SO lucky to have had some seriously good albums released already this year, some true contenders for Album of The Year, I'm looking at you, Hands Off Gretel, but this one, 39 minutes long, 10 songs, absolutely. completely and utterly all killer, this IS the Album Of The Year.

Review - Jason Soper

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