Radar Band Of The Week – No. 18: The Heartbreaks

The Heartbreaks

The Heartbreaks: Classic Smithsian indie cutting through everyman mediocrity

It’s a place where people laugh at your clothes if you dress differently,” says The Heartbreaks’ skinny-pretty frontman Matt Whitehouse of Morecambe. “Four dramatic people in a town like this stand out. But the day people stop laughing at your clothes you should jump in the ocean.”

And that’s The Heartbreaks – completed by Ryan Wallace (guitar), Chris Deakin (bass) and Joseph Kondras (drums). Classic English frustrated dreamers harnessing the disdain of their local residents to create their own world in which babies are born with quiffs, novels replace iPods and choruses are as bright as the sky is permanently grey.

Just as The Smiths forged art from grey 1980s Manchester and the Manics concocted a spittle-fuelled revolution from some swings in Blackwood, the four-piece have, through romanticism, boredom and fun, gone about making elegantly British seven-inch pop a machete-cut ahead of the pack.

The sound is as classic as the idea – Suede pomp, Motown melody and Marr guitar that tumble with controlled freneticism live and on vinyl in bursts of radio-hauling melody. “We get Smiths comparisons, but if we were from Glasgow, it’d be Orange Juice,” Matt protests.

No, it really is because the guitar sounds so Marr-inspired you half expect The Heartbreaks to have three Jarman brothers tied up in their bathroom. But that’s OK, it’s working for them. And they’ve got the tunes in (buckets and) spades to justify the pilfering.

Labels are snooping, but the band, who first came to our attention via NME Breakthrough (our online community), are holding off, although Matt says he wants the debut out within a year. And with three of the four members having moved to Manchester and the band in ascendance, he won’t have to worry about looking out of place in his hometown again.

“I’m at pains to not describe Morecambe as bleak… it doesn’t have the harsh industrialisation of other northern towns. It’s more blighted by adequacy. A mediocrity that’s suffocating.” Well, breathe easy – mediocrity isn’t a word that’ll be associated with The Heartbreaks again.

Need To Know

* Matt and Joseph worked as ice-cream sellers together when they left school

* Steve Lamacq recently described a London Heartbreaks show as “like being at the infamous Sex Pistols show at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester, June 1976” – but he may be exaggerating a bit because he organised the gig

* The band cite Del Shannon’s ‘Runaway’ as the perfect pop song


This article originally appeared in the August 28 issue of NME

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