HAERTS new album 'Haerts' reviewed by Alice Severin for Northern Transmissions




One fan wrote, “I can’t waittttttt!”

And the wait is nearly over.

Haerts have been making hearts, at least some of them, beat faster, with last year’s release of ep Hemiplegia. Since then, they’ve been working on their self-titled new album due to finally be released on October 27. Apparently their name was misspelled to make it personal. A little like pop music, you can mix up the clichés all you like, but they’re still recognizable – and still not yours.

Wings was the first song they put out, and the one that got them their deal with Columbia. The nearly million views on YouTube of the official music video shows two things – one, that major labels don’t take too many risks, and two, the public like being reminded of things they’ve already heard.

The vocalist, Nini Fabi, and keyboardist Ben Gebert, grew up in Germany, and started making music together as teenagers. How they wound up in Brooklyn would make an interesting story, but their journey to the threshold of pop stardom doesn’t seem to be in any of the songs, which deal mainly with love, and love, and love.

But all the angles have been covered. Soaring vocals, check, Greenpoint apartment, check, tasteful semi-nude B&W photo of attractive frontwoman with flowers, check. It’s art! Indie cred. But it is a good photo, and the fashion magazines have already taken this band to their haerts. Image taken care of, now what about the music? The first song on the album, titled Hearts, is a roadmap to their sound. Part Fleetwood Mac, part indie, part stirring song to have on while you drive around in your truck, or order cocktails in your personal film, it’s über poppy, yet something more threads its way through via the layers of synths and rhythms. The backing vocals on the album are a little too much sweetener, the Equal (copyright) of overkill. As the lyrics say “There’s a reason we search for the one who will guide us to be free.” Yes, there is.

Wings, the song that started it all, reminds you of something from the 80s. The guitar sound is another nod to all those AOR hits that just can’t, or won’t die. More synths. When the vaguely Stevie Nicks meets Cyndi Lauper vocal starts, you have to wonder that if they are from Germany, via Brooklyn, why? But this is pastiche, homage to a simpler, more stocking on the lens soft focus time. When the beat changes, it feels like it could go on and on, swaying under the palm trees outside the big dance.

Call My Name starts off sounding like the beginning of “Lady in Red.” Ah the 80s. T’Pau all over again. This is retro in the way the radio can be when they say today’s hits! – it’s just not certain which today they mean. Lots of cathedral like echo effect on these songs because you’re in the church of pleasant pop. This one evaporates like cotton candy on your tongue. Radio hit all over it, buy shares now.

Giving Up offers tasteful drum fills to build emotional impact, leading to the now inevitable big finish. A certain demographic is going to be singing this everywhere. The video shows off golden, lightly florescent lyrics written on shadowy, fit bodies. I don’t know about you, but I’m off to print t-shirts that say “giving up strong.” All the Days has to be a single too. That makes three, at least.

Can vast success be far behind? And is “love is the air that fools breathe”? Seems like a sure thing. Yet you feel a bit cheated. It’s not quite a guilty pleasure, and it’s not quite Stevie Nicks, no matter how neatly the pieces fit together. But sometimes production feels like pop tarts. Simple shapes, different flavors, but with your eyes closed they all taste the same, super sugary and slightly stale. It’s all a little soulless, like someone was getting paid by the hour to do drum rolls. But everyone will have it. You will too.


Alice Severin


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