Mon April 21
Punk has been looking more than a little exhausted and "pop" has to be the least effective descriptive term in the cultural lexicon. Despite the circumstances, the Exploding Hearts' new record, Guitar Romantic, is both exceedingly punk-poppy and hooky-addictive like an unlimited wealth of lite cigarettes.
The first impression this record gives is a nostalgic recognition. You'll hear the Clash, a bit of Ramones, the Bay City Rollers; even the Beatles. Staccato guitar chords and choked out, brassy lyrics, the subjects of which are inevitably girls and grass, immediately register alongside associations of Bubble Yum, leathers and high-tops. Still, Guitar Romantic is less time capsule than it is classic, in the sense that it is written and designed to please. It's not difficult or challenging, and it doesn't require multiple revolutions to settle into. It's an aurally satisfying distillation of likeable influences pulled together immaculately, yet somehow preserving an anxious freshness. (You can also tell it's contemporary by the lyrical deployment of "retard.")
So fresh, in fact, are the Hearts that they're preening up for the shiny magazines--and holy white-framed sunglasses, do these guys preen. Every last one of them is a goddamn fashion punk, meticulous as mods, and the band's signature color is hot pink. You almost have to talk about the clothes when discussing the music. If a blazer with rock buttons could sing, it'd be serenading a studded cuff with songs just like "I'm A Pretender" (which beats you about the head with anthemic likeability) and "Rumours In Town."
Basically, this record is like eating an assload of cheese or jumping on the bed; it's gleefully and guiltlessly easy to enjoy. In fact, the band's appeal is so well aimed it sometimes seems too easy. You might find yourself playing mercy with this album, but eventually folding to the stress-free fun of it and admitting that you still love power-pop after all, especially when it sounds all shiny and tight. Just save yourself the trouble, lighten the fuck up, and go splash some bleach on your denim.