Tuesday, June 05, 2007


One good thing about buying albums completely unheard is the anticipation of listening for the first time. When you get something by an artist or band that you have never even heard before, and it exceeds all expectations, that is the best discovery of all.

The stupid thing is that I dithered about buying this album for over a month;
the reviews I had read were very mixed and, aside from a few totally negative reviews that I ignored completely, one reviewer's favourite tracks seemed to be the least favourite of another! In the end I just bought it anyway. I first listened to it at home one evening because the postman had left it after I went to work and that is just as well as had I been listening to it in the car I would probably have driven into almost every stationary object en route.
If Heartland is not in my top ten albums of 2007 then it is going to be one hell of a year!
The reason for the disparate reviews may, I think, not be too hard to find. If you measure electro-pop in the terms of Goldfrapp and other 21st century albums, including the even more recently released album Trip The Light Fantastic by Sophie Ellis Bextor (I have this too; it is good and I might well review it later), Heartland will come as rather a surprise.
It is in a rather icy style and the music is much more stripped down to basics. It is a modern take on electro-pop as it was in the period 1979 - 1984 but with one important difference... Client is an all female band.
As for the music, you either get it or you don't and although they have borrowed much more in style, rather than substance, from that era there is one exception; track 5 is a cover version of Zerox that was released in July 1979 by the original line up of Adam and The Ants before they released their first album Dirk Wears White Sox, on 'Do It Records', later that year. It was released again as a single in January 1981, reaching #45 in the UK charts. It did not appear on an Adam and the Ants CD until 2004, when Dirk Wears White Sox was finally released with the earlier singles as bonus tracks.
Be that as it may this cover version is absolutely spot on (the "misspelling" on both albums is probably deliberate - Xerox® is a registered trademark) and it sounds as good as almost any cover version I have heard this year - and it is proving a vintage year for those already!

Stand-out tracks for me are:

  • The opener Heartland, which is given a short reprise at the end, a trick that works well on this album.
  • The irreproachable Lights Go Out. It may be derivative, according to some, but I simply don't care - just turn up the bass and volume and enjoy it for what it is! It is track 3.
  • Someone To Hurt - track 6 - a rather slower one but none the worse for that.
  • Köln - this is track 9 and if you like it but can't see where it is coming from I suggest the album Vienna by Ultravox (1980) to see how Germanic electro-inventiveness moved into UK chart music.
To be honest there is nothing even remotely mediocre on this album - the whole album is pretty much pitch perfect.

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