Thurs 23 Aug
words: DARREN HOWELLS
Whilst Morrissey may only pen insightful, if somewhat hypocritical social comments for his fansite these days, his former band are still held aloft in indie circles by listeners who hadn’t even been born by the time The Smiths disbanded. A comparison to Manchester’s finest, therefore, will not do you any harm – and a recent support slot to Mozzer suggests approval for yet another band to follow in his footsteps (the closest he’ll probably get to a Johnny Marr guitar line at one of his concerts anyway).
Like les miserable himself, it would be too easy to dislike The Heartbreaks. The trying too hard retro stylings; the quickly identifiable borrowed tunes; a jangly guitar pop sound that begs you to return to The La’s debut album (as well as, unfortunately, a few lesser celebrated 90s Britpop bands – opening with Save Our Souls, one of the filler songs from debut album Funtimes, didn’t kick proceedings off in spectacular fashion). But slowly, or as slow as it can take with only a half-hour debut album under your belt, the band’s energy was transmitted to the audience. You can’t go wrong in a live setting with incessant pounding drums and simple catchy choruses delivered with unbridled enthusiasm by a group of cheeky-looking chappies. Without frontman Matthew Whitehouse, however, you wonder if they’d get away with such simple repetition on effort alone: his waif figure belies a vocal delivery soaring on the likes of Gorgeous and Delay Delay and allowing forgiveness for their lyrical failings.
The Heartbreaks save the best for last. I Didn’t Think It Would Hurt To Think Of You, as well as reminding me of my advancing years, would have guaranteed The Kooks a number one five years ago – but for all their credible indie championing, the overcrowded, overproduced music scene is a very different place today. You fear unless they can produce an album as good as this song, their sound is too nice, too slight to muscle in and see them headlining tours at venues bigger than Undertone anytime soon.