|The Wildhearts - 'Chutzpah' (Cargo)|
|Written by Gaz E|
|Sunday, 06 September 2009 11:53|
Let's cut to the chase - The Wildhearts have never made a bad album. Every comment, every disappointment from fans regarding output from the band is based on one fact - 'Earth Vs The Wildhearts' was incredible. In my humble opinion, this album is up there with the greatest debut albums of all time. Maybe it was because of what was going on in the music world at the time of its release, maybe it was because I was desperate for Ginger to succeed after the acrimonious way that he was ousted from The Quireboys - either way, the album was a shotgun blast to the head of an increasingly insipid music world.
'Earth Vs...' put the band in an impossible position; unless they recorded the equivalent of 'Pet Sounds', 'Destroyer', 'Back In Black' or 'Sgt Pepper', they would struggle to top the impact and immediacy of their stunning debut. So, again, the band have never released a bad album - lesser, but not bad. Yes, even the much maligned 'Endless Nameless' contained more bright points than a thousand outfits.
The pre-release buzz surrounding 'Chutzpah' put Wildhearts fans in a familiar position - would this be the devastating return to form that they hoped and prayed for? Would this make up for allegations of false dawns and false starts? The first material to be heard from 'Chutzpah' was the single 'The Only One' that dribbled out into the public domain. Subtle, poignant, and sung by bass player Scott Sorry, the song caught some fans unawares - the very same fans who once lived for the unpredictability of this greatest of British bands......
Ah yes, Scott Sorry. Awesome in Amen, and first featured on the self-titled Wildhearts album from 2007 that had its moments but, probably suffered from Sorry not having a full pre season under his proverbial belt. Coming to the fore with 'Carmelita', arguably the standout track from 2008's cover album 'Stop Us If You've Heard This One Before - Vol 1', Sorry has been like an adrenaline injection to the bloody heart of the band. His appointment was a masterstroke and probably the reason why we are being given this steady stream of new material from the band to debate over. A stable line-up for a band who once had a band member revolving door that rivalled the one used by the afore-mentioned Casey Chaos-led Amen, can only mean good things.....
....but is 'Chutzpah' one of those good things? Yes. Is it the return to form that fans have craved? Again, yes. Produced by Jacob Hansen, the album crushes a legion of different sounds from this most bipolar of bands and moulds them into one of the most essential shiny discs of the year. When non-album track 'The Snake, The Lion, The Monkey And The Spider' was made available by the band as a teaser for the album's release, fans got a little giddy with the promise of similar 'Fishing For Luckies' style content. While that mashing of styles has always been the band's calling card - remember those old 'Cheap Trick meets Metallica' comparisons? - now it is done again with a swagger, a confidence, that has maybe been absent on more recent albums.
'Tim Smith', a song dedicated to the Cardiacs mainman who has suffered ill health in the last couple of years, is a perfect example of this; heavy as fuck yet with a familiar melody coursing through it, this is the vintage throwback that will have Wildhearts fans weeping into their CD booklets.....or keyboards. Sniff. Scrub that, I've just leapt up from the computer to have a little jump around to 'You Are Proof That Not All Women Are Insane' - with its timeless "whoah-oh" refrain and '....Luckies' soundalike ending......
.....but I should have known. Whilst I raised an eyebrow at the high quality of album opener 'The Jackson Whites', I raised a horned salute to the return of one of my favourite bands on 'John Of Violence' and 'Plastic Jebus'. If 'The Only One' offered up a hint of poignancy, 'Low Energy Vortex' dishes it up with a beautiful piano intro before doing what The Wildhearts do best - buttering us up with maniacal melody before slapping us about the face and neck with righteous rifferama. 'You Took The Sunshine From New York' is another example of effortless single-quality writing that seems to come so easily to Ginger, but not so for 99% of every other band out there. This catchier than cooties theme continues on 'Mazel Tov Cocktail' before the title track closes the album in explosive fashion, fusing the spine of 'Caffeine Bomb' to an electronic vocal line before showcasing just about every one of the band's multiple personalities in a frantic five and a half minutes that walks a blurred line between mania and melancholia.
Album of the year? That's what people have been saying about 'Chutzpah' already. It's certainly up there. Fans of The Wildhearts, myself included, should be happy that we have an album by the band worthy of being talked about in such circles. If 'Earth Vs The Wildhearts' remains an untouchable milestone in the band's career, 'Chutzpah' can easily rub shoulders with 'P.H.U.Q.' or the afore-mentioned 'Fishing For Luckies' in terms of just how good it is, and how fans should treat it. A startling return to form.