Heartbreaks ready to make mark

INDIE group the Heartbreaks are pictured towing a coffin on their new album - but they're hoping to resurrect the political guitar band.

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Indie band The Heartbreaks are set to impress with new album  as they prepare for performance in Glasgow
Indie band The Heartbreaks are set to impress with new album as they prepare for performance in Glasgow

The Morecambe foursome play Nice N Sleazys next Wednesday, ahead of releasing We May Yet Stand A Chance on June 2.

It marks a return for the quartet, who had their first album of guitar pop partly produced by Glasgow legend Edwyn Collins.

And singer Matthew Whitehouse isn't impressed with groups who have nothing to say.

"There's a real feeling of death on the record, but also a hope that things can be different," he says.

"I get very frustrated - a few months ago the NME had a feature on exciting new British bands and there was a question posed on what they all thought about politics.

"It was an open goal to say anything about the destructive government we currently have, and they all said things like they'd rather get stoned than listen to politics."

Political involvement marks the band out as rarities in today's pop culture.

The days of the early 80s, when the Specials and the Jam offered political commentary alongside three minute chart hits, are long gone, and few mainstream guitar groups seem eager to get involved politically.

That was reinforced to Matthew at a gig last year.

"We did a concert last summer supporting the Courteeners, playing to a much bigger audience than we'd normally play to," he recalls.

"It was the 65th anniversary of the NHS being set up, and I said a few words about how we should fight to protect it.

"For weeks afterwards I was getting abuse on Twitter, for talking about politics at a concert - if you can't talk about it then when can you?

"It's that apathy that's prevalent now, and it permeates every part of our culture. Apathy is all I see, and while I don't think every band should be speaking about politics, there's a problem when no bands are doing it."

Yet don't dismiss the Heartbreaks as simply angry young men. Their new single, Absolved, is a gorgeous, uptempo pop tune, complete with a video featuring the group dancing in suits.

"We were joking about normally it's a record label who makes the band wear suits and learn dance routines and this time it was us insisting on it," chuckles the singer.

"The song has a Four Tops or the Temptations style, so it seemed right to dance in the video. We were definitely doing all the right moves, though maybe not in the right order!"

If their debut record featured swoonsome guitar tunes that called to mind the Smiths and Orange Juice, then Matthew believes their new album is a more coherent offering.

HE adds: "All the tracks are quite widescreen, quite cinematic and they're melodramatic but triumphant.

"On the first record, it was recorded quite sporadically, over about 10 months as we were touring a lot, whereas this record was done in one studio, with one producer over six weeks. That enabled us to stay on course."

As for the album's cover shot, of the foursome heading along the beach dragging a coffin? That was cinematic too, being inspired by a cult Western.

"I'd watched the original Django film, from 1966, and it opens with Django dragging a coffin along the plains," he says.

"You don't know what's in it and it invites all these questions, it's like a MacGuffin device (a Hollywood plot device), and I liked that it could symbolise lots of things to different people."

Yet despite a new album and tour on the horizon, Matthew feels his band are outsiders in the current crop of bands.

"When we started this band I was optimistic and it was us against the world," he says.

"Now I don't know - it's hard for a band like us, who are so out of step with what's fashionable, to be heard. But we're really proud of the record."

One reason for cheer, though, has been BBC DJ Steve Lamacq, who has championed the group, to the extent he claimed he'd quit the BBC if Absolved wasn't play listed.

"Steve Lamacq is a DJ with gravitas and a wonderful guy, and for him to stick his neck on the line like that was great," adds Matthew.

"I don't know whether he'd actually gone through with it, but thankfully we got play listed anyway! If he'd quit we could have hired him as a roadie…"

n The Heartbreaks, Nice & Sleazy, Wednesday, May 21, £8, 8pm.

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