In music, it’s hard to really convey sincerity, yet it’s pretty easy to believe and invest in every word uttered by Cleveland, Ohio, duo Heart Attack Man.
Dripping in bleak gallows humour and wry twisted insights into the American Dream, there’s also a wounded, self-critical heart at the centre of ‘The Manson Family’ that makes for a compelling listen lyrically, but which combines heavy content with strong indie-punk hooks to make an astonishingly brave and powerful record.
Produced by Modern Baseball’s Ian Farmer, Heart Attack Man (Eric Egan and Adam Paduch) fall squarely into the same bracket as MoBo and their buddies in Sorority Noise – and if you’re a fan of either then ‘The Manson Family’ could be one of your favourite albums of the year – yet it’s to the duo’s credit that ‘The Manson Family’ never feels like a watered down or derivative version of this well-established sound.
Instead, playful moments, such as the twinkling keys on ‘Funhouse Mirrors’ or the slow-quick dynamic of ‘Carbon Copies’ help to build a solid identity that is all Heart Attack Man, while the propulsive semi-spoken ‘Surrounded by Morons’ is a brave change of pace that works surprisingly well.
Of course, it helps that ‘The Manson Family’ is frequently excellent, packed with bristling and spiky indie-pop gems that come armed with weapons-grade hooks. Indeed, second single ‘Blood Orange Sun’ might just be the best pop song of the year, while the off-kilter ‘Cut Off at the Knees’ sees the duo asking big philosophical questions against a fizzing sub-two minute banger.
It does mean that ‘The Manson Family’ is somewhat intense lyrically – it’s certainly not a breezy, happy-go-lucky listen – but by cleverly offsetting the heavy themes with driving indie-punk they’ve successfully created a thoughtful and considered album that challenges just as much as it captivates.
‘The Manson Family’ by Heart Attack Man is released on March 3rd on Triple Crown Records and You Did This Records.
Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)