Review Summary: In a scene that is favoring style over substance, the Loved Ones power through a record that brings the fun back in pop punk, no bad haircuts attached.
Now, while a lot of pop punk bands these days are slowing down so they don't mess up their hair and sweating less so they don't run their makeup, the Loved Ones released a follow up to their Self Titled EP (On Jade Tree), with Keep Your Heart, which was released on Fat Wreck Chords in February of 2006.
Once you put on that first song, the opening chords of "Suture Self" tell you just from the gritty tone that this is going to be a much more raw record, the song is one of the faster (not the fastest) tracks and everything about defines The Loved Ones: Dave Hause's urgent vocals and raging power chords, Michael "Spider" Cotterman's bouncy bass lines, and Mike Sneeringer's simple yet big sounding rock drums.
The most redeeming quality of Keep Your Heart is its consistency, every song keeps you wanting more as it moves along, with huge sounding rock ("Breathe In", "Jane") to the band member's hardcore roots ("Over 50 club", "Benson and Hedges"), and even slowing it down a little ("Sickening", "The Odds"). But after hearing the album around 100 times (seriously), I've found in my opinion that their biggest strengths are in their Mid-Tempo pop punk numbers, such as "Arsenic" and the unbelievably catchy "Living Will (Get You Dead)".
The only real problem is some people might feel that there is a lack of originality, say with similarities to Green Day and the Lawrence Arms (You might even say the album's structure is similar to the Lawrence Arm's Oh Calcutta! (coincidentally the albums were released a month apart). Also, there were several re-recordings of songs from their old EP ("Jane", Arsenic" ), but luckily they are solid redone tracks and have a much larger feel to them, although I think their B-Side "Spy Diddley" Should've made it on the album.
All in all though, the playing is tight, there are a lot of great hooks, and all of these songs make for a great live show. It really does bring a lot of the fun back to raw pop punk/rock.