If there was a band who are due a wealth of success, it’s the Xcerts. Over the course of three albums and numerous support slots, the trio have amassed a tight-knit following yet have seen their contemporaries arrive, gain widespread exposure and then disappear. Nevertheless, LP #4 aims to change all that as they come out with all guns blazing. Influenced by the likes of Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and 80s teen movies, ‘Hold On To Your Heart’ serves up 10 sublime slices of anthemic rock.
Eased in by the piano-led opener ‘The Dark’, Murray MacLeod’s familiar sombre tone gives way to the bright and thriving ‘Daydream’. The Xcerts have never shied away from embracing their pop sensibilities and ‘Daydream’ is just one of many tracks that does this. While in the past, their execution has been somewhat cold and angst-driven, songs such as ‘Crazy’ and the title track comfortably live in the 80s-tinged pop-rock spectrum.
Undoubtedly, ‘HOTYH’ thrives on the momentum of back-to-back infectious songs. ‘Feel Like Falling In Love’ hasn’t lost any momentum since its release last summer. Capturing the constant theme of hope, it’s brilliantly paired up with ‘First Kiss Feeling’. Together, they flourish with lyrical optimism. By the time you reach the screeching saxophone on ‘Drive Me Wild’, you’re caught up in the Springsteen-influenced radiance that the Xcerts (and Black Peaks’ Will Gardner) have produced.
‘Cry’ perfectly captures the 80s movie tone. As it drifts along, you can imagine the credits rolling with Murray’s melancholic confession of “I didn’t mean to make you cry, I’m sorry” before a rich sax solo takes over. It neatly ties up what ‘HOTYH’ is all about; a personal journey of lost love, hope and reflection.
Although it’s somewhat of a departure for the Xcerts; the bleakness of past releases has been replaced by radiant positivity that grows with each listen. Through collective personal troubles in recent years, the Xcerts show there is light at the end of the tunnel. And with songs as euphoric as they’re on here, that light is unbelievably bright.
‘Hold On To Your Heart’ by The Xcerts is released on 19th January on Raygun Records.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)