Anthemic tracks destined for stadiums and ballads fit for crying alone in your bed. The most underrated band in music return with their fourth studio album Hold On To Your Heart.
After an impressive end to 2017, The Xcerts return with their fourth studio album Hold On To Your Heart. I couldn’t help but feel this album was to be the most important of the band’s career, in the hope that the most underrated band in music could burst into millions of ears this year. The success of the singles, Feels Like Falling in Love, Daydream and Hold On To Your Heart, was very impressive and were received very promisingly. After hearing them, I was certain that the most exciting part of 2018 was going to be the revelation of this album. Our very own Editor-in-Chief, Aaron Jackson, interviewed the band before their sold-out London show in the autumn. They were positive about the latest venture being a “different type of record for [the band]”, only fuelling my excitement more (you can catch the rest of the live review and interview here: https://wavebyte.co.uk/2017/10/13/the-xcerts-scala-live-review-interview/).
Here we go boys, give it to me.
The album starts in a delicate, almost haunting fashion. The decadent tones of a keyboard stand in solidarity to kick off opening track The Dark. Before long, slightly more positive chords join the parade. I was very thrilled to learn that the struggles with love discussed throughout the band’s discography had not ceased to haunt frontman Murray Macleod. He explains that “it’s 2 AM and [he is] surrounded by love” but all he can see is “the dark”. Immediately, I knew that all the emotion the band had loaded into their first three albums and every live performance over the past 10 years had built up to this. The Dark is elegant, not what I would normally expect from an album opener but The Xcerts are not traditional by any means. The track is dark and ominous, but most importantly it is heartfelt. The Xcerts have their demons and man, I love it.
From here, we are taken on a rollercoaster. All sorrow is quickly blown away, the band throw us into a flurry of tracks brimming with vigour. Daydream and Feels Like Falling in Love are up next. I won’t touch on these too much as they have both been covered on the website before. However, I must reinforce the tenacity of these songs. Incredible. From here, the energy allows us to seamlessly slide into First Kiss. This track boasts one of the catchiest hooks ever written by The Xcerts. The boys glide effortlessly through the opening verse, the drums accelerate and pound. Immediately, we get thrown into a chorus which is undeniably catchy and utterly infectious. Murray demands that his mistakes must “come on and hurt [him] good”, hinting that even beneath their more positive sounding tracks there is pain. Lyrically impressive, musically tight. The incessant bounce of this track is entirely unrelenting.
The drums in Crazy light up track up. They drive us through the song, changing tempo when the track is faced with the potential of turning a corner. Marrying perfectly with the vocal experiments of Murray, the song reaches every peak and trough of the emotional spectrum. As the song breaks down, the bass stands alone for a swift moment. Murray returns and repeatedly confirms that he is “going crazy”. Hold On To Your Heart follows. Another song I have reviewed previously to the release of the record (you can check this out here: https://wavebyte.co.uk/2017/11/18/the-xcerts-hold-on-to-your-heart/). This track is suitably titular as it encapsulates the record’s ethos – balancing the thrill and agony of the story being told by the band. It does so effortlessly.
However, the biggest take away from this album has to be Drive Me Wild. The track opens in an uncharacteristic fashion. The song bursts into a swank-a-liscious, brass-driven introduction. The experimental nature of this one works perfectly; every time I have listened to this track I can’t help but smile. In nature, Drive Me Wild is a little slower than its predecessors. However, the uniqueness of this song is what makes it stand out. A personal favourite and one that you have to check out. We Are Gonna Live feels as though it could have been lifted straight from the band’s previous album, There Is Only You. I must assure you that this is a compliment. Another phenomenally energetic effort with a catchy chorus. You can almost see the crowds singing this one back to them.
Now it is time for the big finale. Show Me Beautiful was showcased by the band at their headline Scala show. Upon hearing it then, I recognised its potential. The spotlight was placed firmly on the vocals of Macleod during the live performance, now hearing the recorded version I can see why. It is utterly gorgeous. The synthetic drums coupled with the keys balance the song perfectly.
The final track, Cry, is a blend of heartfelt emotion and beautiful lyricism. Just when you think all the sorrow has all been used up, Murray and co. deliver a ballad as beautiful as the one that has just finished. The brass returns once more for a perfectly fitting, epic ending to the album. One of the lyrics delicately explains that the band had been “finding light in the dark that we hide in”. A poignant, thought-provoking end which led me to think back to my own relationship with the band. Their music and live performances have been a very important part of my life for many years now and I was so happy to hear that the boys were optimistic about their horizons. This song made me a little emotional, thinking back to Aaron and I sneaking headphones into Year 9 Physics classes just to listen to In The Cold Wind We Smile on loop. Don’t go anywhere, anytime soon lads. Cry showcases the essence of the album, and honestly the band as a whole. The masters of mixing anthemic tracks destined for stadiums and ballads fit for crying alone in your bed.
Every minute detail of the album has been delicately crafted, even down to the track order. Each song offers something different, takes you somewhere unique and makes you fall in love with the band in a different way. Their previous efforts may have all been incredibly impressive, all boasting moments of unrivalled excellence. However, I pray that the release of this record is the one to propel them into the spotlight. It is time. Get on the train. You HAVE to know about The Xcerts, if you don’t, then what have you been doing? Hold On To Your Heart, spin it.