There’s a playlist on my iTunes affectionately titled “ZOMG! Emo Teen Years”. It’s where the music of the 90’s and early 2000’s finds one massive home, pairing early Foo Fighters alongside Default, melding into a familiar blend of alt-punk riffs alongside pop songwriting sensibility. There’s a reason those years were perhaps the heyday of the alternative scene: people were disenchanted and disenfranchised, and needed to reflect on it.
Niagara On The Lake band Heavy Hearts brings a sound that evokes the best pieces of post-grunge puzzle: sweeping, sonic undercurrents to the cresting choruses that fall to an ebbing, brooding verse that stalks the darkness of the heart until it is pushed into the light. Their sophomore EP, Somewhere, A While Ago is almost nostalgic, yet retains a crisp freshness of its own.
Lead-off “Garden Arms” kicks off the proceedings in a flurry of percussion and an almost flailing-while-running riff. A need to escape life’s ennui permeates the track, echoed by the striking shift in the bridge that shucks off the familiar grunge foundation for something more likely to spring from the likes of Imagine Dragons. “Underwater Shakespeare” favours a more pop-punk sheen as it kicks out the EP’s moniker: “I just want to go far from what I know/Searching for how I felt somewhere, a while ago.” It packs punchy chords and a balanced twist of emo as it captures a snapshot of a life that feels like an inescapable dead-end.
The real standout here, however, is closer “Wash”. With an opening reminiscent of the likes of Stabbing Westward, this is the tune where Heavy Hearts opts for a sound that feels as immense as the weight of deep regrets on a restless night. The guitars seem to expand and run a little wild, allowing the band to demonstrate their chops. And while they’re not necessarily reinventing the lyrical wheel, the songcraft is polished and calculated as to linger.
Really, that’s what makes Heavy Hearts a band to give a listen to: there’s a wisdom beyond their years here, an understanding of what makes a memorable melody. It is the student absorbing the wisdom of the teacher and extrapolating it to a new level. Somewhere, A While Ago may take you back to the past. but it also shines with the promise of alternative’s future — and a new generation of young adults, struggling to shrug off the shackles of an unfulfilling life.
Final Grade: A-
Pick up your own copy of the EP here.