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The Wildhearts Must Be Destroyed

By Frank Meyer, Contributing Editor
Friday, October 10, 2003 @ 9:52 PM


(Gut Records)

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England’s The Wildhearts have been kicking around for a decade or so and have delivered a slew of fine albums that have been quite successful in Europe, yet they are virtually unknown here and their CDs are near impossible to find. After a brief hiatus in the late-‘90s, the band regrouped and had a big hit in Europe with the single, “Vanilla Radio,” which lead to a new full-length, Must Be Destroyed. The biggest surprise here is that Must Be Destroyed is actually their best record yet, a feat rarely orchestrated by bands passing the 10-year mark.

The Wildhearts have always had trouble making consistent records. With the exception of their 1993 debut, Earth Vs. The Wildhearts, (the only one to be released in the U.S.), most of their albums tend to have all the ingredients of great albums, yet never quite hit the mark. They seem to have difficulty successfully mixing their heavy metal stomp with their penchant for power-pop hooks and the result is often too fast and hard for pop fans yet way too pop for metal/punk fans. Thankfully, Must Be Destroyed does not have this problem.

The balance between pop and hard rock is struck perfectly here. When lead singer/guitarist Ginger belts out the pummeling “Nexus Icon,” it’s as if the Swedish Invasion never happened and the Hellacopters and Backyard Babies never existed, so ass kicking is the sound. “Get Your Groove On” could be on a Megadeth album it’s so friggin’ fast and punishing. “There’s Only One Hell” also carries on in the headbanging tradition.

But The Wildhearts have never had a problem being heavy. It’s the pop angle that is so fresh here. “Only Love” is so sugary sweet and wonderfully delivered it would make Paul McCartney blush. This is the type of tune the Foo Fighters would have a breakthrough hit with in the Sates or would put a baby band on the map. “Vanilla Radio” is heavier but no less enthralling. An absolute smash hit if ever there was one, this gem features some terrifically scathing commentary on the current state of AM/FM medium. “One Love, One Life, One Girl” is another stellar nugget, with its beautiful harmonies and lush wall of guitar, as is “So Into You.” Finally the band gets it right, perfectly swirling all of their influences into one sound and penning some of the best material of their careers.

Will this record find The Wildhearts surfing the wave of a major comeback in their home country and becoming a big headlining act on the world concert circuit? Definitely. Will Must Be Destroyed have a chance in hell at breaking here in the U.S., even with the abundance of potential breakthrough hit singles laced through it? Unfortunately, I seriously doubt it. Why? Because U.S. radio is just too goddamn vanilla over here, if ya ask me. You have to be mighty crappy to get on the radio these days and crappy this album is not. The Wildhearts may just be too good for America…

Is it still Earth Vs. The Wildhearts here in 2003? Naw, more like Earth vs. itself as the Wildhearts keep making great music.

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