From small-town origins, come big-city ambitions. Emerging from the cold coastal breeze of a jaded, Northern seaside town, Morecambe’s The Heartbreaks debut is a chiming, shimmering pop gem.
A melting-pot of influences; a dash of Motown and Northern Soul, plus a healthy dose of 80’s indie-guitar-pop; Orange Juice perhaps (Edwyn Collins part-Produced), or a personal favourite, the Waltones, spring to mind ÃÂ but key is the spectre of the Smiths. Marr-esque guitar work, a Smiths name-check in the lyrics and support slots with Morrissey give a clear signpost that this band are continuing the journey plotted by Moz and Co a generation earlier. But the Heartbreaks palette splashes a fresh coat of colourful paint onto the Smiths black-and-white canvas.
The ten breathless tracks run the range of wistful relationship tales but with an undercurrent of honesty and optimism. Standout tracks include Jealous, Don’t You Know, with its killer bass in a middle-eight to die for; if only the chattering fools at Radio 1 had played it, it could have been a huge hit. The memorable Delay, Delay will stick in your head all day while Didn’t Think It Would Hurt To Think Of You disproves the assumption that its title is too wordy, to be catchy.
Joseph Kondras isn’t satisfied with just being a neat drummer – he writes all the lyrics too. Vocalist Matthew Whitehouse is the photogenic frontman, the line-up completed by Ryan Wallace and Chris Deakin. They straddle the line between mass-market pin-up status and a cool, knowing, vintage Mod look.
With a blend of introspective angst, combined with some Northern charm, the boys rattle through this neat batch of carefully-crafted, jangling indie-pop. They could only be English with lyrics of kicking leaves, Barbour jackets, the Transpennine Express and a hot beverage on the seafront. But it’s not all sandcastles and melting ice creams though. While the sound encapsulates the determination to break out from the small town of which they are so proud, they are also driven to reach a more broad appeal, with some big-city grit and suss that belies their provincial roots.
Here’s to an album to soundtrack the summer of 2012 ÃÂ Morecambe’s loss, our gain. Fun times, indeed.
All words Steve Bradley. More by Steve can be read here.
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