Review Summary: Ginger Wildheart is back with yet another album, perfectly in time for a sweltering summer.
So, Ginger Wildheart, the genius behind The Wildhearts and the marrying of big heavy Metallica shaped riffs with cheery Beach Boys style melodies, decided to team up with New York songstress Victoria Liedtke, and record a noisy pop rock album under the name of Hey! Hello! And whilst the extended riff-athons and non-stop time changes that are a feature of any Wildhearts release are less conspicuous, this album still comes packed with deleriously bouncy and rocking riffs.
Album opener Black Valentine kicks things off with a stunning riff, quick and poppy and irresistibly toe-tappy, before the two vocalists start chanting back and forth to each other after some kind of break-up. Meanwhile the guitar builds up in the background before exploding into the chorus, and the gloriously singalong nature of the whole album follows, with the first of many choruses that will live in the head for a long time. By the end of the song, it's pretty clear that Ginger is still on top songwriting form here.
The next few tracks fly by along a similar vein, with Swimwear being an obvious standout. This one is pure pop rock, and once it has sunk its hooks into you, you won't get it out. Racing along at one hell of a speed, it hits its first chorus before the one minute mark and doesn't stop once to catch its breath, save to hit a brief piano break before the final chorus. The 2:17 minute run time leaves you feeling like you're on a sugar buzz better than any before.
As good as the first half of the album is, nothing quite prepares for how stunning the next five tracks are (possibly with the exception of track nine). Kicking off the second half of the album is Lock For Rock (And Other Sporting Cliches), which feels a little more mature than the previous tracks, albeit still with what is now the traditional Hey! Hello! irresistibly catchy chorus, and a big bouncing riff. It is the next two songs that really define the album however, with The Thrill Of It All being slower than the majority of the rest of the album, and Victoria's voice is used to magnificent effect, singing almost melancholicly about someone who "Takes his alcohol every afternoon at five. It helps him to forget that he don't like bein' alive". The music really fits the mood of the verses on this track, yet the chorus juxtaposes this superbly to uplift the song and ride along on a superb melody.
The next song, How I Survived The Punk Wars, shouldn't really fit in with the tone of the album, being a much more straight-up punk rock song, but somehow it does perfectly. It's a song about surviving in the music world, and is pitched fantastically with biting lyrics and an amazing punk attitude like I haven't heard in a long time: "Listen, you want a shortcut" Better learn to suck cocks, get a new f**king haircut! But if you want to take your 15 minutes of fame and stretch it out over 40 odd years in this game, Better learn a little word, it's called integrity, and it involves you listening to people like me". A little self-aggrandising maybe, but Ginger has undoubtedly got the credentials to back it up.
Following a slight mis-step with I'm Going To Kiss You Like I'm Going Away, the album closes with the amazing We're Outta Here, probably the best chorus on the whole album, and the guitar sound throughout is just stunning. It builds over the whole of its five minute runtime, before dropping for a choral solo singing of the chorus, then stomps straight back in for another round. It also has a bizarrely brilliant ending, coming to a sudden halt as a robotic voice announces that "we have fled your inhospitable planet. Enjoy the honey". Apparently it's a song about bees, so there we go.
Overall, Ginger Wildheart once again produces the goods for his fans. Having been one since Earth Vs The Wildhearts 20 years ago, and following all the way through to the anniversary shows this year, Ginger has shown that he just plain doesn't write a bad song. If you are a fan of any of Ginger's work you will love this album. It is the perfect accompaniment to the summer, and will live on long after the sun has gone.