Jack Antonoff, Sam Dew and Sounwave cross paths to form Red Hearse on a bizarre-sounding debut effort of irresistible modern ballads.
There’s something about Red Hearse that you can’t quite put your finger on. You’ll want to call it pop music, yet it sounds like absolutely nothing else out there. But if it’s not pop, what is it? Funk? Soft rock? Indie? Alternative?…There’s really no point wasting time deciding.
Jack Antonoff is the music mogul behind Lorde’s groundbreaking Melodrama, St. Vincent’s critically acclaimed MASSEDUCATION and both Lana Del Rey and Taylor Swift’s upcoming records (as well as spearheading his own band Bleachers after Fun. ran its course). Sounwave has played roles on both the Black Panther and Lion King soundtracks, as well as Kendrick Lamar’s infamous To Pimp a Butterfly and DAMN. Sam Dew, whilst realising his own tracks, has composed for Zayn and P!nk with a bit of spare time to lay backing vocals for Rihanna too. To a great extent, the three artists are the ones penning music industry’s history as they go. And because of that, their debut self-titled isn’t like anything that’s come before.
Red Hearse boasts eight tales of love whose witty production keeps Dew’s soothing voice ticking along. The title-track is, appropriately, an embodiment of what the band are all about with a plodding chorus that will circle your head for days. Its bassy reverb harks back to Bleachers’ Gone Now before it gives way to vague studio chuckles as Antonoff asks, “can I punch the last one?”.
He could well be referring to an ‘mpc’ or a ‘moog’, the simple synthesising set-up behind the project. “We’d meet every once in a while in California at the studio. We don’t think much about what we are gonna do, we just make a plan to meet”, Antonoff shared on Instagram.
“Wave plays something on his mpc, there’s mic and moog. It happened like that – and something that we loved came from the three of us in the room.”
Maybe that’s what helps make Red Hearse the most endearing band of the year. Amongst all the complex records that Antonoff, Sounwave and Dew have been part of, this is an album that music loves will ‘get’ instantly.
‘Half Love’, the first song the band recorded together, sounds as if someone has thrown Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak into the 1980s. It could well be Red Hearse’s best moment as Dew layers his falsetto over his reassuring “never gonna love another like you”.
Elsewhere, ‘Violence’ is a punchy flick that shuffles its way to a dancefloor-ready bop. ‘You Make It Easy’ sees Dew’s lyrical battle to win over a lover soundtracked by some easy-going funk and ‘Honey’ is a euphoric proclamation of “I’m alive like I never really was”. Meanwhile, ‘Born To Bleed’ is a certain fan favourite. Track after track, Red Hearse are exquisite.
Now, Red Hearse prepare to take to James Corden’s The Late Late Show on September 3rd before a sold-out three date string of shows in Los Angeles, Chicago and Brooklyn.
Rating – 4/5
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