The Scarlet Letter - How Is Your Heart? (Cover Artwork)

The Scarlet Letter

How Is Your Heart? (2003)

Black Matter

The Scarlet Letter are an East Coast original. With influences spanning an impressive range, this quirky NJ band employs a clever unpredictability that makes How Is Your Heart? a genuine spectacle. Few other bands have blended genres so seamlessly without sound like they were forcing it.

How Is Your Heart? incorporates so many things: blast beats, pop hooks, mosh parts, and more – it's all here, and more. That said, this record will appeal primarily to those who already have a taste for the kind of frenetic, schizophrenic sounds made by bands that share similarities with The Scarlet Letter - How Is Your Heart? evokes everything from Los Crudos and Kill The Man Who Questions, to Dropdead and Sepultura, to Grimple and Fugazi and C.R. If you've got an ear for clever, nimble songwriting reconciled with overt aggression, The Scarlet Letter will leave you refreshed and inspired.

Lyrically, How Is Your Heart? touches on many familiar topics and themes: domination, social inequity, personal/emotional politics, etc. It all varies in tone – some songs are vague and personal, while others make clear statements about specific ideas or issues. Like the musical arrangements, the ideas projected by The Scarlet Letter are all over the place - but in the end How Is Your Heart? has remarkable continuity, and feels quite natural.

This is what is most impressive about The Scarlet Letter – they are content to be what they are. By taking their music and making it a vehicle for expressing whatever is on their minds, they avoid putting restrictions on themselves (or their art) for the sake of having an easily pegged aesthetic. They're not "going for" this or "going for" that. This is true hardcore, played from raw the heart and not dressed up for the magazines or MTV2.

How Is Your Heart? is an exemplary exploration of ideas, sounds, and feelings. It has substance and style, and not an ounce of it is even slightly contrived. While they don't enjoy the same easy marketability as other bands with more accessible interpretations of what Punk music should sound like, The Scarlet Letter has more to say on this single record than most bands will in their whole careers. And with music that gives off such distinctly dizzying energy, listeners will be hitting repeat, repeatedly.