It is rarely that a band markets extreme contradiction with critical success; With a pretentious shudder, rap-rock comes to mind. Though, especially in the last few years, bands have tried to skirt the dangerous no manís land between tweedy pop and jaded emotive introspection, it seems they either slide into hormone-driven pop punk clichťs or end up living comfortably along side the creditable members of the recent acoustic rock bloom.
With their new record, Socialize, The Metal Hearts strike an uncomfortable peace accord with the characteristically evanescent energies of indie music. While, like their contemporaries, airing on the side of understatement, the band makes real strides to deal with the lack of guttural angst in wispy pop. They valiantly take on the ominous proposition of almost novelty-bedroom-DJ sounding drum loops and stay solidly cloistered in the current vein of listenable independent pop.
The album predictably rests in slow, drifting melodies, but The Metal Heartsís use of strings, saxophones, and drum loops give their music a dark savvy. Again, Iíll put their sound in terms of a contradiction by calling it both cosmopolitan and primitive, for me, redolent of last yearís Gnostic full length by Vancouver BCís Black Mountain. More irresponsible but necessary comparisons would include the Stars of Track and Field (similar drum looping tactics) and Modest Mouseís Moon and Antarctica LP (listen to the desolate vocals).
To be sure, there are several points on Socialize where the Metal Hearts do fall short of profundity. Some songs would rather just exist, and certainly the lyrics wonít appear on the sweaty lips of motivational speakers any time soon. However, the albumís tedious arc does not spell disaster because all of this obfuscation, of course, is part of the game.
I really canít stress enough how much I feel the saxophone works with the drum loops and guitars on this record. Its paroxysmal impositions illuminate the constant drone of the drums in a way that flatters the whole work. Although seldom appearing, I think the sax might be the sound that carries the Metal Hearts away from awkward snare loops, the tired whimsy of plucked guitars, and quiet "passing afternoons," into something coldly genuine.