As the proverb goes: “If you want a thing done well, do it yourself”. These words may have been at the forefront of the founder member of Hearts Fail himself, Edward Wagner, for this is the first album in the band’s ten year existence to be written, arranged, performed and produced entirely by him.
Despite referencing the likes of Sister Of Mercy, The Mission and various British post-punks acts in their overall sound, Hearts Fail are a goth-inclined rock act with several tricks up their sleeve too. Any song which opens with the line “This is where the angels come to die” may sound a tad clichéd but throw in some surprisingly psychedelic keyboards, crisp percussion and Wagner’s own murmuring and you have an unusual and fascinating band (or solo act). Earnest, soul bearing anthems such as ‘Always’ and ‘Two Worlds Apart’ pass muster but it’s evident the more risk Wagner takes, the more intriguing his music becomes. For instance, the intense opening to ‘In My Head’ suggests The Teardrop Explodes with once again the opulent keyboard work set against Wagner’s moody crooning; it’s an incongruous but winning combination. The title track is a fine Bunnymen-esque ride through glum rock. There’s even a brilliant interlude, courtesy of the Comsat Angels homage ‘Writhe’ and the Sheffield band’s influence crops up again on the shuffling drumming on ‘Stars’.
Wagner is clearly trying to do something different to stand out from the usual post-punk, goth rock revivalists and to a large extent he’s succeeded. There are times when the songwriting may lack the immediacy of his contemporaries and the album could have done with being pruned a little but otherwise this is nostalgically-flavoured music performed with a flourish; made all the more admirable by the fact that this album is the work of a one-man band.
The Mission, The Comsat Angels, Echo And The Bunnymen