Review: Hearts Fail – The Dying Season

When it comes to gothic rock music, Hearts Fail hark back to the late 1980’s when bands like The Mission and Fields Of The Nephilim were mainstays of the British charts. Hearts Fail may not have emerged from Northern England (they’re actually from San Antonio, Texas) but they certainly possess that spirit.

‘Escape From The Valley Of The Lions’ is a typically irony-free sample of their work as guitars swirl and Edward Wagner wails and rages above the noise. There are a few too many guitar solos (‘Somewhere Else’ being a major culprit) and the whole album could have done with some serious pruning to drag it out of its time warp.

On a positive note, though, the band can write some cracking songs and arrange them beautifully too. ‘The Glass Blower’ captures the subtle essence of The Comsat Angels. ‘Warning’ is more wistful and Wagner’s vocal trembles endearingly around the chiming melody whereas ‘Crash Palace #2’ crucially replaces gothic bluster with a lighter touch. It is at these times when Hearts Fail come closest to emulating the atmosphere and melodrama of one of their chief  influences, The Chameleons.

Of their more anthemic efforts, ‘Wants And Needs’ stands out as the kind of punchy, intense and flab-free songs they should make more of (even the solo merits further listens) and ‘Glowing Orange Smile’ and ‘Out, Out’ are elegant and poignant instrumental interludes.

It’s not often that an album’s best moments all seem to occur at the centre of the record yet this is one of those times. ‘The Dying Season’ lacks the variety and invention to impress anyone beyond genre afficionados but it is noteworthy for its delicate touches, where they eventually grasp what made their named influences so special.

Web Sites:
Hearts Fail MySpace

Further Listening:
The Mission, The Chameleons


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