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THE PHEROMOANS - 'Hearts Of Gold' LP

by The Pheromoans


Artist: The Pheromoans
Title: Hearts Of Gold

Label: Upset The Rhythm
Catalogue Number: UTR065
Running Time: 36:47 mins
Release Date: June 9th

Track listing:
01. Coach Trip
02. Vagabond Hits 40
03. Province Baby
04. Dried Out Dreams
05. Chung Said
06. Young Black Eyes
07. Hearts Of Gold
08. The Boys are British
09. Duxford Air Show
10. Old Curtains
11. Let’s Celebrate
12. Little Runaround
13. Laurie’s Case

THE PHEROMOANS are a six-piece experimental rock band from the South East of England who deal in a deadpan DIY music. Married to the mundane yet surreal reportage of our lives, their music manages to address the truly restless boredom and absurdity of everyday life. The Pheromoans write songs for the end of the queue, songs that prowl the periphery, songs that stand up on the bus and stare out through the window, blasted through with brilliant sprawling sunshine.

Over the last six years the band have released a slew of records, including numerous EPs, 7"s, mini-albums and LPs through labels as diverse as Night People, Convulsive, Sweet Rot, Monofonus Press, Clan Destine and their own imprint Savoury Days. These recordings largely focused on a ramshackle, wayward rock ethic, underpinned by lyricist Russell Walker's dry, observational musings that tread an almost diary-like path throughout the songs.

New album, ‘Hearts Of Gold’, is the band’s sixth album proper, following on from 2012’s well received ‘Does This Guy Stack Up?’, also released by Upset The Rhythm. Since that last record Walker has been busy flexing his vocal chords via a number of other projects including his musical collage team-up with Dan Melchior entitled The Lloyd Pack (Siltbreeze), the playfully deconstructed Charcoal Owls (Night School) and Bomber Jackets (Alter). So it’s with eyes open that ‘Hearts Of Gold’ strides forward, casting its net across a diverse array of topics, including short distance holidays, ageing trendsetters, parenthood, functioning alcoholism and Hugh Laurie’s blues career.

‘Coach Trip’ opens the album amongst a swarm of stabbed synth clusters and tumbling guitars (courtesy of James Tranmer and Alex Garran), ambling on the double yellows before concluding that “new dads all act like twats”. ‘Vagabond Hits 40’ is “on nodding terms with the girls from Beyond Retro”. Flickering keyboards pepper ‘Chung Said’, growing bolder as the song transforms into a transcendent nightmare, with bass (The Octogram) and drums (Scott Reeve) accenting the song’s casual disdain. With this album the expressive keyboard work of Daniel Bolger has started to command more of the centre stage too, lending an often melancholic/euphoric quality that feels like new territory for the band. Title track, ‘Hearts Of Gold’ returns to the band’s draft though, delighting in a rush of jangling, scrambling guitars, sprightly beats that keep breaking loose and nonchalant voicings.

‘The Boys are British' is the lead single from ‘Hearts Of Gold’ and covers two failed army cadets struggling to adjust to civilian life. “Should we expect something in return? Should we expect anything from now on?” questions Walker, underscoring the album’s main trope by walking a tightrope between hope and fear of disappointment. “Let go of the damp balloons” he resignedly instructs, bookending a mellow rumination on growing old named ‘Old Curtains’.

‘Hearts Of Gold’ draws to a close in a decidedly impulsive manner with the fleeting optimism of ‘Let’s Celebrate’ seeping into the spooked void of ‘Little Runaround’ before ‘Laurie’s Case’ ices the cake. The drums strike out hard and fast, letting the unbridled guitars shuffle into unchecked chaos. It’s a poignant track to end on, “I brought the song into the world… and I’m to blame” fesses up Walker at the end of an album that’s at times as revealing as it is cloaked. That’s central to the appeal of ‘Hearts Of Gold’, making it such an oddly engaging listen. Through all the mess and melody, through the trivial and the achingly true there’s a grander point to be made, coming slowly into focus, the point of it all and with this album The Pheromoans do everything but spell it out.