Blackheart Society

Oh!! Oh!! (Hit Records)

The influences of the Blackheart Society's Oh!! Oh!! are clear from first listen. It's Brit rock meets classic rock, and for a few standout tracks, the mix works very well.

The raucous "Don't Say You Love" and "I Want You" are especially reminiscent of The Rakes' best work with their plodding bass lines and dance-y drum beats. And though the song "War" essentially lifts its guitar riff straight from the New Zealand-based Steriogram's "Walkie Talkie Man" (which, in turn, was a sped-up rip-off of The Kinks' "Picture Book"), it, too, is an energetic romp perfectly scored for a fast-paced night out on the town. On these tracks, lead singer Ben Fleming displays a phenomenal ability to lyrically and vocally match the pace and feel of a song without overcoming or overwhelming it.

Unfortunately, that much can't really be said for the rest of the 13-track effort. The instrumentation is there, yes, and there are indeed moments throughout the disc when it seems like Blackheart Society is on the cusp of something great. But Fleming's strained vocals awkwardly keep these moments from coming to pass. This is especially clear on the opening track, "Little Girl," an odd pairing of '60s psychedelia with strings-based build-ups that Fleming has trouble blending in with. Blackheart Society comes close to a smash with this disc, but misses out because it gives more precedence to the heroin-esque tracks than the coke-fueled ones.

 
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