Review Summary: Hardcore? No. From the Heart? Yes.
Joana Serrat has made a wonderful album full of soaring melodies, incidental wall-of-sound guitar washes and warm vocals. While very radio-friendly, this record can be surprisingly deep and there is enough room for sections to evolve and grow without being cut off by the next block of commercials. This time round, Serrat is supported instrumentally by American indie folk band Midlake, which is clearly audible in this record’s americana influences. They are everywhere: from the mournfully stately slide guitar during the opening notes of album highlight How To Make You Love Me
to the ending of Summer Never Ends
Every so often the guitar arrangements recall Souvlaki-era Slowdive, for instance on Easy
and You’re With Me Everywhere I Go
, whereas Take Me Back Where I Belong
features a nice long War On Drugs-segment. Just like the Loveless inspired album art suggests, this record is very dreamy in its approach. But these certainly are fuzzy, warm dreams, not even the slightest hint of a nightmare is to be found here. Let’s put it this way: Serrat might very well be the happy, optimistic Spanish twin of Emma Ruth Rundle.
While Hardcore from the Heart is more poppy than the previous comparisons might make you expect, this focus on accessibility hardly ever takes away from the record’s quality. Serrat’s vocals are a main reason for how accessible this record can be. Her melodies are familiar sounding ear-worm material, and they will make you hum along in no time. Her voice is warm, pleasantly husky, calm, and without pretence or misplaced acrobatics. Her vocals almost make this record feel like she’s singing by the campfire, guitar in hand, a beer next to her, the warm, Catalan summer night air blanketing you.
Hardcore from the Heart is nothing ground breaking, yet it is a comforting helping of americana-flavoured poppy folk that could be enjoyed by a very broad audience.