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Carrying an endorsement from Morrissey doesn't necessarily qualify as a barometer of taste, as The Ordinary Boys, Bradford and The Thrills demonstrate all too well. Breaking the mould somewhat are The Heartbreaks, who seem to possess both an insatiable energy and raw prowess when it comes to songwriting that maybe the former Smith's fledgling career as an A&R scout needn't be discounted just yet. Next month they'll be opening up for Mozzer on several of his sold out European dates. This evening however they find themselves in much more intimate settings, playing to a hundred or so people in a tiny room above a Nottingham city centre pub.
Hailing from the Lancashire seaside resort of Morecambe, a town usurped in popularity by the neighbouring Southport and Blackpool respectively, their simplistic musical creations depict a world where the faded glamour of the town they grew up in breeds escapism while kitchen sink dramas rule supreme. Despite forming just over two years ago, 2010's excellent 'Liar, My Dear' single brought them to the attention of a wider audience, and while there's little argument that melodramatic state of intent represents one of last year's finest 45s, tonight's performance suggests there's plenty more in the locker where that came from.
Taking the traditional four-piece guitar band template, come across as being well schooled in all things Postcard, Rough Trade and Sarah Records, if a little grittier than most of the latter's roster. Frontman Matthew Whitehouse is a particularly captivating presence, his delivery pitched somewhere between the laconic wit of Elvis Costello and a younger Edwyn Collins. Opener 'Winter Gardens' revisits The Colour It In period, Whitehouse and fellow guitarist Ryan Wallace jangling away like sparring partners on a You Can't Hide Your Love Forever love-in.
Forthcoming single 'Delay Delay' and equally pop-fuelled ditty 'Man Overboard' ensure the time travel machine is firmly tuned into 1986 and stays there for the duration of each number, while boisterous oldie (i.e. pre-'Liar, My Dear') 'Hooray For Our Gang' inspires fervent stage invasions reminiscent of Smiths concerts from back in the day and group hugs aplenty, impressive stuff for a band whose sole output still only amounts to a couple of (admittedly well-received) seven inch singles so far. The most recent of these, 'Jealous Don't You Know', causes more mayhem among their devoted following at the front while 'Liar, My Dear' and its referencing of Keith Waterhouse's 1959 novel about the infamous Billy Fisher ensures more rapturous applause at its climax.
Although still early days, there's enough here to suggest The Heartbreaks could just be the missing ingredient to provide that spark the UK guitar scene so desperately needs. Watch this space...
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