The Exploding Hearts

Guitar Romantic (Dirtnap ’03) Rating: A-
Hailing from Portland, Oregon but obviously worshipping late ‘70s U.K. punk, The Exploding Hearts burst onto the scene with Guitar Romantic, on which the band blasts through a mere 10 songs in just under 30 minutes. Alternately recalling The Buzzcocks (“Modern Kicks”), The Clash (“I’m A Pretender”), and the New York Dolls (“Boulevard Trash” - ok, NYC punk is an influence as well, just look at the Ramones-y album cover), these songs feature slashing guitars and a riotous, manic energy without forsaking melody. The catchiest tracks here - the aforementioned songs as well as "Thorns In Roses" and the more melancholic "Jailbird" - are darn near irresistible, and the album delivers just enough earnestness to make up for the overall lack of originality, especially when the hooks aren’t as easily graspable. There's not much more to say, really, beyond the fact that this was a fun first album by a band who seemed to promise much more in the future; after all, they weren't averse to a cool guitar solo here and there, and their songwriting only figured to improve with a little bit of seasoning. Alas, it was not meant to be, as the band met a tragic end when their tour bus crashed, killing singer/guitarist Adam Cox, drummer Jeremy Gage, and bassist Matt Fitzgerald, a fate that seemed that much sadder given that this album was filled with so much life.

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