The Heart Attacks

Hellbound and Heartless

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You must be joking! Start it again. They can't really be serious can they? Okay, the song sounds like the Heartbreakers, but the rag-tag team of vocalists are aping the Beastie Boys, at least until lead singer Chase Noles changes tack and starts channelling Johnny Thunders and then Stiv Bators. And that's just on the first track of Hellbound and Heartless, "You Oughta' Know by Now"; after that all hell breaks loose. Every generation needs its court jester, and this, the Heart Attacks' debut album, suggests the quintet are a shoo-in for the job. Bringing back the best and worst that all the most disreputable of punk bands had to offer, the Heart Attacks storm out of the starting blocks and proceed to rage across a dozen sonic assaults without a ceasefire in sight. As young (actually younger), loud, and snotty as the Dead Boys, as ramshackling and insouciant as the Heartbreakers, as wonderfully glammy in their punkiness as D Generation or Hanoi Rocks, the Heart Attacks swagger straight across this album, urged on by producer Lars Frederiksen of Rancid fame. Their chutzpah immediately caught the attention of Frederiksen's bandmate and Hellcat label head Tim Armstrong, and Joan Jett as well, who added her vocals to "Tearstained Letter." That song is presented 60s' style, brimming with organ (an instrument that reappears in the most unexpected places), while "Eyes" stuffs its hybrid style straight in your face, with its Sex Pistols riffs backed by barrelling R&B piano and a stunning saxophone solo. "Traveling Band" subjects Chuck Berry to the wonders of speedcore, although it's actually a Creedence Clearwater Revival cover. "Widowmaking" crosses Mot├Ârhead with melodic hardcore, the title track stumbles right over the blues (as played by Johnny Thunders), as does "City Slickness," but this in more British late-'60s fashion, at least until the band kick that in the head and go out in a blaze of organ-laced punk rock. Peppered with thoroughly infectious melodies and shout-along choruses, Hellbound and Heartless is utterly rambunctious. The band, like all the best jokers, are smarter than they first appear, delivering up an exhilarating, exuberant album, that throws a gauntlet down to the entire punk scene along the way.

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