Right, we’re in the final three months of the year so whilst it was already a fair bet when it landed back in May, it’s fair to say The Wildhearts’ Renaissance Men is the best album of 2019. And if you say otherwise, that’s not even your opinion, you’re just wrong. Not content with just one release in 2019, those four roustabouts have given us another half-dozen (technically five) tracks for us to wrap our eardrums around.
Spoilers: it’s awesome. The kind of awesome that if Renaissance Men didn’t exist, this would be the best album of 2019. And it’s not even an album, it’s an EP. Taking its name from “Diagnosis” from this year’s larger release, the track features here as well and is the opening salvo. It’s simply anthemic and as mental health awareness continues to push forward, it’ll sit at home in a live set for years and still be every bit as relevant.
With its stark album artwork simply featuring a bottle of Valium, and the lyrics discussing how the system in place for those with mental health conditions isn’t fit for purpose, you know The Wildhearts are there to take them to task. But at the same time, they offer those in that position a ray of hope: that you are so much more than just that label. Despite tackling that heavy subject, it’s an upbeat song, laden with hope, offering an ear for people to talk to and an outreached arm to lift them up (even though it may be refused).
Elsewhere, the songs are just as fast and furious. This isn’t a cynical add-on to what preceded it or a “here’s what we left off the album”. This is very much its own release and feels like an amalgamation of Renaissance Men and Earth Vs. Indeed, these songs are every bit as potent as those albums as “A Song About Drinking” looks at using alcohol as a crutch and “God Damn” is all about keeping on track when the battle seems futile. Meanwhile, “The First Time” has an air of reminiscing about it with its nostalgic vibe.
Diagnosis is The Wildhearts through and through. There’s no reinvention of their wheel. Because they don’t have to. It’s simply a combination of their two best albums into one, short, sharp release. Why? Two reasons: to show those who feel alone in their struggles aren’t… and because they can.
Diagnosis is out now