Heartsounds - Drifter (Cover Artwork)


Drifter (2011)


Eschewing even the pretense of concern for a sophomore album slump, Heartsounds produce a riveting revival for melodic, technical-metal-inflected pop-punk with their second album, Drifter. Treading into the familiar territory of punk luminaries Strung Out, A Wilhelm Scream, Propagandhi, and the Swellers, Heartsounds combines tactful technical bravado and pulsating punk anthems with infectious pop melodies and introspective (to a fault) lyrics. Vocalists and guitarists Ben Murray and Laura Nichol trade off and blend in vocals for a full tilt and sultry, signature vocal dynamic. Bassist Kyle Camarillo and drummer Trey Derbes are integrated into the band as a full-time rhythm section for this ambitious effort. The group's debut effort, Until We Surrender, might have been mostly a nod to (early furious) Swellers material, but Drifter boldly strides into the technical (and even more furious) direction of A Wilhelm Scream and Strung Out.

The first two tracks, "Every Second Counts" and "Unconditional" deliver the opening punk onslaughts before the title track, "Drifter", supplicates for punk introversion: "I'll drift through the day just to get back to sleep... Or self-meditate my way into the arms of relief." Jason Cruz from Strung Out lends guest vocals on "Elements" to further layer the solemn nuances. Some noticeable vestiges from Ben and Laura's previous band, Light This City, emanate and fall into the mix as Ben resurges into full technical prowess on "Race to the Bottom" and "Uncomfortably Numb", which even flirts with full-blown drummed blast beats. Laura prods and points fingers on "Don't Talk with Your Mouth Open", a vitriolic but mildly teasing ("you get what you pay for") punk screed. Laura slows it down a bit for a modest ballad on "Echo", but humbly tackles self-esteem issues on "You Are Not Your Body". Ben ends the album on a reflective note with "Nothing Happens for a Reason", a tribute to his late father.

Drifter might be the record that buries the past, figuratively and literally. It is heavier and beefier than their first effort, Until We Surrender, as well as many of the brash and brawny moments of Light This City. It also delves into some deeper emotional territory than Until We Surrender. Indeed, Heartsounds may only be just one more band in the resurgence into late '90s/early '00s technical-metal pop-punk, but Drifter will definitely stand out in the resurgence. Highly recommended.