The Loved Ones

Keep Your Heart

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    7
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If you heard 2005's self-titled EP, The Loved Ones' Fat Wreck debut should come as no real surprise, as this full-length plays like an extended version of the EP. The songs are different (with one exception), but the blue-collar punk trio's sound still keeps the hardcore attitude of their past close at hand amid the melodic and crunching realms of Keep Your Heart. The album is full of commanding guitar hooks, rousing choruses, and the hoarse vocal stylings of Dave Hause, whose worn-down yet triumphant lyrics surely speak to the Bruce Springsteen fans of the punk world. It's hard to debate Hause's earnestness as he proclaims, "I'd rather feel the heartache than act like I don't care," in the searing "Breathe In," along with the distressed sentiments spoken to his wife in "Please Be Here." Furthermore, the Boss' influence is most noticeably heard in the striking, stately beat and get-your-lighters-raised attitude of "Sickening." The album, while nothing short of enjoyable, drags slightly in the middle as the 13 tracks begin to run into one another before the satisfying shout-along chorus of "100K," which also appears on their EP, serves as a wake-up call near the album's end. Also found around this time is the self-deprecating yet empowering "Player Hater Anthem," which by confronting possible reactions to the band's music, in turn makes this review seem, well, rather unnecessary. Whether you like this album or not, the Loved Ones could really care less. As they conclude things with "It's all just as well, the ones that can tell, know we're here to play," they make it pretty obvious that the music is for themselves and the fans that get them.

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