Song by Song Review: The Wildhearts – 21st Century Love Songs

The rock n roll renaissance men return in top form to deliver a raw, unapologetic sign of the times banger that goes beyond eleven. 21st Century Love Songs is available for pre-order now. This is a heavy, heavy record, both literally and figuratively, and a bit of an emotional rollercoaster at times. If I had to describe it in four words, it would be raw, determined, riff-heavy, and decisive. It’s less polished than their previous effort and surprisingly has a real live feel to it even though it was recorded during the lockdown.

There’s certainly not a better rock album out there that both reflects the current state of affairs and offers a no-frills answer to how to power through it all. It’s deep, melodic, heavy as fuck in some cases, and gloriously beautiful in others. I’ve listened to this record half a dozen times so far, and I can tell you it’s good, really fucking good. So let’s dive in, shall we?

21st Century Love Songs – The first 90s seconds in, and your senses are blasted with metal, power pop, and punk in that order. This one has the soul of classic Cheap Trick, the riffage of Master of Puppets all thrown into a blender along with a dash of classic punk and of course those massive, glorious Wildhearts harmonies. A proper epic opening in true fashion. I would guess this will be the new show opener as it sets the stage perfectly.

Remember These Days – It has a bit of a Social Distortion feel to it initially before blasting back onto the roller coaster ride of the opener. It still has that raw feel to it which I didn’t get on Renaissance Men. This one took a couple of listens to really digest but the hook that hits at around the four-minute mark reminds you that these guys really do write anthems.

Splitter – A much more straightforward number full of punk angst and another big chorus. This should be another staple in the set moving forward. The guitars in this song could be some of Ginger and C.J’s finest work. They are perfectly in sync.

Institutional Submission – Holy shit, this one is good. Probably my favorite on the record. It’s also the heaviest, and a must listen to with headphones on. The back-and-forth pans from left to right sound killer. There are riffs that would make Slayer proud in this one nestled in between some 70’s arena rock bridges and post choruses’. I would imagine that the band will close with this track. This one is a fucking riff-a-palooza and probably the most complex on the record. I’m four songs in, and this feels like a concept album.

Sleepaway – If you were a bit worried about the direction of the album with the release of “Sort Your Fucking Shit Out” as a first taste, relax as this one brings you back to that familiar sound. Listen for yourself here.

You Do You – The catchiest number on the record and shortest (coming in just under three minutes) is full of social commentary on the current landscape of experts in an era of misinformation. Short and sweet, straight to the point, and another banger.

Sort your Fucking Shit Out – I love it when a band throws a curve ball like this one. In case you missed it, check it out here.

Directions – My absolute favorite track on the record. A bit of a heavy glam rock feel to it. The harmonies are at their finest here, in my opinion, an absolute gem of a song in true classic Wildhearts fashion (and watch for another fucking massive riff that seemingly comes out of nowhere)

A Physical Exorcism – Gang-style vocals bleed straight into the big harmonies. Another masterclass in genre-bending.

My Head Wants Me Dead – This is an interesting one. An epic last stand, if you will, as a closer. Make what you want from the title, but the lyrics tell the story of someone struggling, and the song ventures up to the event horizon of prog rock in certain places while somehow maintaining the identity of the Wildhearts, and it’s over in an instant. Silence.

Holy shit, that was one wild ride full of twists and turns rocking a full-throttle virtually the entire time. It’s a testament to the fact that you simply cannot pigeonhole this band, nor can you predict what they will do next. Pre-order the record here and get your tix to see the rock band of the year as they bring this one to the live setting this fall.


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Jason Miller
Jason Miller

Jason Miller is a leading digital B2B marketer, who’s held senior roles at LinkedIn, Marketo, and ActiveCampaign. Before entering the B2B space, he spent ten years at Sony, developing and executing marketing campaigns around the biggest names in music. He is a prolific keynote speaker, digital marketing instructor at UC Berkeley, and best-selling author. Also an accomplished rock concert photographer, his work appears in books, magazines, and album covers.

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