The Exploding Hearts – Guitar Romantic

The Exploding Hearts
Guitar Romantic

All good rock n’ roll is teenage rock n’ roll. Let’s face it, without the implicit understanding that some pimply, mouth-breathing 14-year-old is pumping his fist to all that swagger and cock-grabbing, the music just seems a little silly. Older folks who still salivate and get all glazed over just thinking about the Stones and Hendrix are only trying to relive their once glorious past of scoring in the backseats of Camaros and throwing empty beer bottles off overpasses.
This is why rock n’ roll will always sound better when played by actual teenagers – not 40-year-olds in unfortunately tight shirts and coke glasses. The Exploding Hearts exemplify this theory. They really only know about four or five chords (which they exploit with alarming success), the neon pink and yellow cover to Guitar Romantic pictures all four members striking their best, sneering Sex Pistol poses, lead vocalist Adam Baby sings in a nasally, faux-Limey lilt, and, the bottom line people, they fucking ROCK!
Take the fiery, catchy opener, “Modern Kicks.” “Hell is breaking loose, she said, I don’t mind, I don’t mind,” Baby whines, firmly establishing the Hearts as a bunch of gum-chewing, authority-detesting, asshole teenage PUNKS! Get off my property, you crazy Exploding Hearts! I ain’t gonna tell you again. Always comin’ over hear, smokin’ cigarettes and spray paintin’ their pink and yellow logos all over the damn place. Holligans!
The Hearts also understand how much it sucks to be a kid and be in love. “I’m a pretender at the game of love,” they insist, in the jangly, Jam-ish, tambourine-peppered ditty, “I’m a Pretender.” The kid in the song would rather run home and hide then have to face his girl’s willing, smoldering lips. What a wanker! The album’s best number, “Jailbird,” tells the sad lament of the singer’s unrequited crush on a spacey Lolita. Sniffing rubber cement, riding roller coasters, and watching this heavily mascara-ed seductress “kissin’ with lips – Why not mine?” The Hearts expertly capture the difficulty of maintaining indifference while experiencing obvious heartbreak. After a fractured, reverbing guitar intro, “On the Boulevard” kicks off with Baby’s punctuated “Woo!” followed by a storm of piano and lines like, “I’ve been missing from home since the age of 10 / A hundred dollar reward, I think I’ll turn myself in! Yes I will.” Runaways, unemployment, apathy, drug abuse, making out and breaking up – this is the stuff youth is made of.
On a more somber note, last July, Adam Baby, drummer Kid Killer, and bassist Matt Lock were all killed when their tour van flipped over on the road from San Francisco to their hometown of Portland, Oregon. Guitarist Terry Six and their tour manager were the only survivors. The explicit sadness of listening to this simply awesome record and knowing that it will be their last is almost too much. The Hearts had nowhere to go but up. They had been contemplating signing to Green Day/Ted Leo/Donnas label, Lookout! Records, and Guitar Romantic had only been garnering the best reviews. As Billy Joel so adequately underscored, “only the good die young.” The Hearts will be sorely missed, but they have left us with a testimonial to their youthful exuberance and their insistence that above all else, do just what you will and be sure to get your modern kicks.