Tue. Sep 17th, 2019

Tracking the career of English hard rock outfit The Wildhearts is a headache-inducing exercise in sheer concentration; their path to cult status has been a twisting mess of line-up changes, freakouts, meltdowns and squandered opportunities.

Centred around volatile creative genius Ginger the band, beginning in 1990, cut a swathe through London’s underground rock scene with their insane, self-destructive antics.

In a near 30 year career they have produced, in between band breakups and personal breakdowns, nine studio albums; the widely acknowledged high point being 1995’s p.h.u.q, with its sublime harmonies and deft guitar work it became a minor hit for the band.

When the band went through one of their frequent implosions in 2012 fans might have despaired of ever hearing another Wildhearts release, with only a couple of live albums issued over the years the band’s future seemed less than certain but the wait has been worth it.

2019 sees the release of Renaissance Men by a reformed Wildhearts line-up and the album is an absolute pearler, easily their best work in the opinion of this reviewer.

The layered harmonies, snappy lyrics and chanted chorus remain a feature while the guitar work is far tighter and heavier; you could say the band have modernised, ditching the detuned grind and synthesisers of 2009’s Chutzpah for a more polished, more mature sound.

Standout tracks are Diagnosis, a scorching rant on the overcharging and under-servicing in modern health systems, the rollicking Emergency (Fentanyl Babylon) and Little Flower, which harks back to Ginger’s roots in the London Glam scene.

Renaissance Men is worth a buy for hard rock fans, a stellar effort from one of the most unstable bands and unusual frontmen in the modern history of the genre.

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