The Head & The Heart – The Head & The Heart (Sub Pop)

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Seattle newcomers The Head & The Heart released this record off their own backs last year, and quickly built on big stateside buzz to sign a deal with the legendary Sub Pop label. The band’s reputation is making its way across the Atlantic, and a recent support tour with The Walkmen saw people turning up early taken in by the energetic performances and strong harmonies the six-piece conjure up.


The songs on this debut release centre around the two frontmen Josiah Johnson and Johnathan Russell, who trade verses and harmonies with an easy familiarity which suggest they’ve been writing tunes together for much longer than they have. Opening double ‘Cats and Dogs’ and ‘Coeur d’Alene’ are essentially one long track, separated by sudden changes in arrangement and feel. The songs rise and fall through multiple changes in intensity, ranging from barrelling piano stomp to gently strummed guitar and back again, each part tied to a strong, memorable melody.


These melodies are what marks this album out in particular – there’s nothing new here in terms of style, instruments or feel. But the jaunty piano foundations of ‘Ghosts’ are tied to hook after hook after hook which it is nigh-on impossible to stop yourself from singing along to after just one listen. Album highlight ‘Rivers and Roads’ shows further ability to shift through the gears, with violinist Charity Thielen taking over lead vocal duties for its forceful finale. ‘Sounds Like Hallelujah’ sees the band flex their songwriting muscles even more, with a key change after less than a minute that comes right out of the blue.


As mentioned before, you won’t find any groundbreaking innovation or incredibly deep Americana roots here. But what you will get is one of the strongest collections of quality melodic songwriting heard on a debut album for a good while. The band are touring with Death Cab for Cutie around the UK in the summer – my suggestion is to get down there early.



God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.