Only For You – Heartless Bastards

From a tiny stuttering drum break comes a lilting guitar refrain. The smoothest mournful vocal slips into the track from lead Bastard Erika Wennerstrom. Cooing and wooing in equal measure along with the mellow groove. The next five minutes are a spellbinding cocoon of beautiful noises, adept restraint and musical muscles barely flexing, but still showing off their capabilities.

Subtlety is a rare trait in the world of garage rock bands. Heartless Bastards do an impressive thing on Only For You. It is apparent that every note is intentional and pinpoint in it’s accuracy. It is also apparent that this band could raise a cacophony at the drop of a hankie if it were called for.

When you listen to a rock bands album and it’s full of throbbing racket, you can reasonably expect track 4 or 7 to go acoustic or ‘be the ballad’. It’s the moment you (and the A&R men of old) can point to and say ‘That’s the next single’.

Often, back when this was a cynical move you could hear the band in question throwing in a bunch of stuff that ‘wasn’t them’ in the great chase for a cross over single. Layers of otherwise absent keyboard or piano is the least of it. Glockenspiels, chimes, gospel choirs. Some filthy pigs will even bring in the pan-pipes for a hit single.

Heartless Bastards do more with less.

They play down the rockier excesses and hone the intent. It’s like hiring a muscle man to carry the shopping in from the car. The band is more than capable of delivering Only For You musically, so they deliver it with polish on every note. Precision in every moment and restraint that says ‘there’s a lot more where this came from’.

And some people say AOR is boring. This is masterful.


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