The Young Hearts are a melodic guitar driven rock band from the UK, combing the best elements of emo, alternative rock and pop-punk into a cohesive sound of their own. In a global pandemic where live music is on hold and the roll out of new releases has been slower than usual, I was fortunate to receive an advance album stream of the outstanding debut LP by the Young Hearts titled “The Modern State”. The album is set to release later this month on Year of the Rat Records, and serves as a follow up to their last EP “Honestly, I’m Just Thinking”, which showcased a band with tremendous song-writing potential. Now, after repeat listens of their debut LP, I can confidently say that their potential has been fully realized. If 2017s EP “Honestly, I’m Just Thinking” was an appetizer to whet the pallet, “The Modern State” definitely serves as the main course.
If I had to describe the sound of their debut LP, most of the songs comfortably and consistently sit somewhere between the melodic punk rock and roll swagger of bands like The Gaslight Anthem or The Menzingers and the big emotional heartfelt alternative rock of bands like Jimmy Eat World. This combination suits them well as The Young Hearts serve up 12 guitar-driven heartfelt rock songs, bolstered by huge guitars, soaring melodies, driving rhythms, and a range of tempos and moods. From upbeat and explosive pop-punk anthems like album opener “Wild and Reckless” to slowed down emo ballads like title track “The Modern State” or the stripped down acoustic number “Anchors”, the songs throughout the LP are mostly driven by melodic layered guitars, heart-on-your-sleeve vocals, and plenty of sing along hooks to go with it. The kind of story-told songs that are meant to be played live and loud, to a group of packed in sweaty kids, belting out every last word of every song like it’s their last. At the same time, the songs on their debut wouldn’t be out of place in an outdoor amphitheater or arena either, often demonstrating how versatile they are. The production is pristine, of major label caliber, without taking away from the genuine and sincere feel of the songs.
On their debut LP, The Young Hearts have nearly perfected the art of delivering songs that are often melancholy and sad while also sounding triumphant, uplifting and anthem like all at once. “Old Familiar”, one of my favorite songs on the album, is a perfect example of this, with its driving guitar intro that brings to mind The Ataris’ “So Long Astoria” and one of the cathciest choruses on the album, it's also reminiscent of some of the best melodic heartfelt pop punk of the early 2000s. Furthermore, the bridge in “Old Familiar” when singer Craig Lawrence’s vocals drop to a lower register could easily be mistaken for something off an earlier Gaslight Anthem album. A great combination to say the least.
Speaking of vocals, I’d be doing the album a disservice if I didn’t mention the impressive talent that singer Craig Lawrence showcases on the album. While so many vocalists of bands in this genre use a gruff or raspy delivery that often borderlines on talking or screaming, Craig actually sings and sings well. The 12 songs on “Modern State” are sung with passion and conviction, relying on Lawrence’s mature and clean vocal delivery, often sung in a higher register. I appreciate how his sound often hearkens back to 90s alternative rock bands like the Gin Blossoms, but with more energy and punk attitude, and also not dissimilar to late 90s emotional pop punk / indie rock bands like Game Face, Sense Field, Jimmy Eat World, and many others. The Young Hearts may be from the UK, but their sound fits right alongside the many American bands playing Midwestern emo with elements of melodic alternative rock and pop punk. The good news here is that The Young Hearts will equally appeal to fans of their UK contemporaries as well. I could easily see fans of Cold Years, The Run Up, Lonely The Brave and the like loving this album.
All in all, the debut LP by The Young Hearts is one I highly recommend, and is a great new release to kick off the new year with. Let’s just hope the world gets back to a safe place in 2021, so we can all enjoy this music the way it’s intended to be…..live and loud! Don’t sleep on this record, and click the Purchase link above to Pre-order a copy ahead of its January 29th release date.