It’s a rare thing to listen to a record and be instantly aware of how much fun the people on said record are having- singing their hearts out and thrashing away at their instruments like their lives depend on it. Emerging from the New Jersey D.I.Y punk scene, Heartwell are caught somewhere between fellow Jersey residents Lifetime, with their melodic emo-tinged hardcore approach and the catchy jingle-jangle of Indie. The band’s debut – Certainty Of Change, despite the usual self deprecating emo lyrical histrionics, possesses a unique ability to warm the cockles of your heart through songs that beg to be sung along to. From the first raspy vocals of opener ‘Second Annual’ you may feel the inclination to jump around and shout the words back with all the strength in your lungs. These are songs written for playing in a live environment – to be best enjoyed covered in sweat in a small room of writhing bodies.
As the mosh-inciting opener draws to a close, there is an instant sense that this album has raised its head above the mire of similar sounding groups. ‘Milpool’ sees dual harmonising vocals with each vocalist competing to claim the title of having the most bedraggled and tattered vocal chords. Ringing guitars provide the beautifully simple harmonies whilst gruff power chords maintain momentum throughout, hammering away at riff after riff with hearty vigour. ‘Adults’ features a more subdued and melodically inclined intro with guitar lines weaving in and out of each other, flowing into following track ‘Chronometry’. The relentless energy rarely lets up until the more sombre ‘Untitled’, a wonderfully understated three chord interlude that lets everyone catch their breath before the pace intensifies once again for ‘Who Monitors The Monitor’ – yet another raucous foot-stomper of a track. ‘Bring Me Back Something French’ has more than enough “woah-ohs” to keep the pop-punkers content as well as some clever drum work that is brilliantly intricate without being too distracting. The group finish the album on ‘Winter Swimmers,’ another fast-paced blast of punk that descends into a piano line of stark simplicity that brings the album to a subtle and dignified close.
Sure, there may be thousands of bands who instill the same Lifetime-isms into their music as Heartwell, yet few can claim to do so with such sincerity and energy. It is clear that Heartwell are injecting every morsel of their very being into their music, placing much higher value towards overt passion rather than originality. It is this fact that makes ‘Certainty Of Change’ such an enjoyable record and if by the end of listening to it you haven’t as much as even though about stagediving to their bouncy emotional punk, then I’m afraid there may be something wrong with you.
4 out of 5 high fives!