Last night the chapter of the NRA to which I belong held its monthly “members only” meeting at my house. We talked church of the BOOM, watched football, drank dullard beer, spoke of the fairer sex in crude terms and did many various/sundry things which are ubiquitously linked with being MEN. Towards the end of the night, when the sports are over and an adrenaline boost is needed, I’ll usually put some music on. Well, thankfully, I had the foresight not to pass around the cd case, or mention that we were listening to “Shimmering Stars,” and so probably saved some caveman cred. Even so, tears were shed. Macho, macho men covered their eyes and spoke of innocence lost, or squandered. These are melancholy, the-summer’s-almost-over-and-she-left-me-back-to-school meditations. Heavy on the reverb and the staccato, with up-tempo where it counts: see “Walk Away.” Deadeye dick for October in southern California, harkening back to a time when the Pacific was blue, Malibu was not obscured by a brown smudge in satellite photos and women could run without fear—the tops of their bikinis did not swing precariously akimbo, overripe with bricked silicon. But I digress. There are certainly elements of surf music here, the guitars are bright, the music straightforward and sentimentality reigns imperial. Although there’s a pervading earnestness on “Privilege” and “Into the Sea,” Violent Hearts is dirtier and more cerebral than, say, Dick Dale or the Challengers—and you won’t see the Ventures slapping titles like “Nervous Breakdown” on a track. These Canadian lads have built an excellent, melancholy season-ending debut, and alongside groups like Jacuzzi Boys, Gold Leaves, Grave Babies Hardly Art is building a catalogue worthy of its Sub Pop heritage.
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