HAERTS’ ‘HAERTS’: Album Review

HEARTS first appeared on the music scene in 2012 with the infectious single “Wings,” and now the indie-pop quartet are gifting fans with their self-titled debut LP — which is out today (). The project is a reminder that popular synth-drive music of today doesn’t always have to hit you in the head with intensity. Sometimes it can be tender and supple, and that is just what this album delivers.

HAERTS begins with “Heart,” and the opening lines reveal its thematic core: “I will never break your heart/ Don’t go blaming on me/ Blame the silence, the voices, the fear.” The lyrics read like a personal diary, making an instant connection with the listener. Lead singer Nini Fabi‘s vocals soar over the track, which is glossed over by cozy synths and feather-light percussion.

Following is the song that is responsible for the band’s record deal with Columbia: “Wings.” It is a synth-pop lover’s dream — thanks to the lush harmonies, piano melodies straight from an ’80s-era John Hughes film and electric guitar licks speckled throughout the track. But what keeps it from becoming too sickly-sweet are the heartbreaking lyrics about a fading romance: “People never smile to say goodbye/ Leaving means there’s nothing left to try/ But I broke my wings for you/ I smiled as you untied our love for good.”

HAERTS has two main highlights: “Hemiplegia” and “No One Needs To Know.” The former was first released on the band’s 2013 EP of the same name. The textbook definition of the word Hemiplegia is: “Total or partial paralysis of one side of the body that results from disease of or injury to the motor centers of the brain.” The quartet manages to translate this into a poetic mid-tempo that metaphorically drowns you with its weighty rhythms. It starts off steady, but soon crashes through the ear waves as it hits its energetic bridge.

The LP’s other standout track is “No One Needs To Know.” It is not as emotionally heavy as the rest of the album, making it a much-needed breather. With its delicate vocals and softly retro keyboard notes, the song is the perfect late-night backdrop as you curl up with your significant other.

HAERTS’ new single, “Giving Up,” seems to take notes from labelmates Haim, as it’s perfectly molded into a radio-friendly pop song. It features hand-claps, commanding vocals from Fabi, a pulsating percussion and rumbling synths. What more could one ask for?

But there are some tunes that drag the record down with their overbearing melancholy, and the biggest one that comes to mind is “Lights Out.” The lyrics don’t create vivid imagery like the other tracks, and the production is stagnant and never changes. The chorus (“Don’t call me when the lights go out/It’s too late”) is also basic and repeats itself too often. The album quickly picks itself up with the haunting track, “All The Days.”  With this tune, the synths are no longer saccharine. Instead, the murky synthesizers tread heavily against the throbbing drum beats — thanks to the song’s producer Jean-Philip Grobler of St. Lucia.

There is no question that HAERTS is a modern indie-pop record, but it is the warm air of nostalgia that saves it from getting lost in the current indie pop trend. The album’s cover art depicts Nini Fabi topless, with only a bouquet of flowers covering her. This photograph is a spot-on reflection of the project’s aesthetic; at first glance it seems beautiful, but as you dig in deeper it reveals itself to be fragile, romantic and painfully human.

Best Song That Wasn’t The Single: “No One Needs To Know,” it truly belongs on a 1986 cassette tape that you’ll pass off to your lover as a gift on Valentine’s Day.

Best Listened To When: It’s a rainy night in the middle of the winter, and you’re longing for your significant other to return home to you.

Idolator Score: 3.5/5

— Bianca Gracie

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