Album Review: The Wildhearts – Renaissance Men

Has it really been a decade since ¡Chutzpah!? Wow. Well, the boys are back and this time we have the return of Danny on bass giving us the line-up which created P.H.U.Q. all the way back in 1995. And bloody hell, are you in for a wild ride with Renaissance Men.

Many of you will have heard the brash “Dislocated” already (if not, it’s below), with its non-stop abrasive tone and definitely punk-influenced vocals. Well, as much as it is fast and scathing, “Let ‘Em Go” is anthemic. It doesn’t even wait for the chorus for the singalong. Hell, no. Seconds in and you’re just aching to let your voice belt out the words in harmony. That’s not to say it’s “easy listening”, by any extent, though. It still kicks some serious arse.

The title track throws down an opening riff and beat that makes you want to jig. It’s as if the lads have thought “this is the first new shit in a decade – it needs to be able to kickstart a party”. And they’ve nailed it.

“Fine Art of Deception” harks back to much older days with a refrain similar to that of “TV Tan” (very vaguely), and a belting bluesy guitar solo before the final reprise. If you’re not bouncing by now, you’re dead. “Diagnosis” slams in next with a wall of guitar noise and bitter lyrics: “We are not weak, you’re asleep at the wheel / The system is fucked and your treatment’s corrupting the deal”. I could be wrong, but I think this one could be politically motivated…

The Wildhearts don’t do thrash metal, but if they did then the high-speed drumbeats that open “My Kinda Movie” would put them in good stead. Rather we have another punktastic blast of in-your-face melodies.

Of course, every Wildhearts album needs a ballad so for Renaissance Men we have the gently-titled “Little Flower”. Nah, I’m kidding. Although this is about as laid back as it gets, it’s still about as gentle and relaxing as a shower of red hot razorblades. For just over two minutes, “Emergency (Fentanyl Babylon)” will tear up any dancefloor with a trademark mix of catchy vocals, pit-inducing rhythms and bounce.

The first c-bomb of the album (I think!) is dropped in “My Side of the Bed”, a schizophrenic track that’s half bitter and half melancholy… and all Wildhearts. “Pilo Erection” rounds things off with a foot-stomping start leading into more of a toe-tapping whole, with a soaring chorus that raises the hairs on the back of your neck.

There’s always a worry when a band makes a well-publicised comeback, drafting in “classic line-up” members, and takes an age going through the process. Will it come out, won’t it? Will they get the band back together. Is it actually happening? And then… will it be any good?

Renaissance Men is good. No, it’s better than good. It’s definitely been worth the wait, and the only negative thing I can really say about it is that it’s not long enough. Mind, in the old days of multiple-media releases with a couple of B-sides on each, we’d have had an extra album in there no bother. Those days are long gone, so I guess I’ll have to settle with putting it on repeat. Endlessly.

Renaissance Men is out on May 3rd and the band will be touring that month as well:

  • Fri 3rd Manchester Academy 2
  • Sat 4th Edinburgh Liquid Room
  • Mon 6th Cardiff Tramshed
  • Tue 7th Bristol SWX
  • Thur 9th London Brixton Electric
  • Fri 10th Norwich Waterfront
  • Sat 11th Leeds Stylus
  • Sun 12th Newcastle Riverside (SOLD OUT)

Tickets are available here.

For limited tickets and new album pre-orders (discounted bundles available) please go to The Wildhearts’ webstore.

The Wildhearts: official | facebook | twitter

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