If you are a fan of the late 90’s, early 2000’s brand of Midwestern whiskey soaked pop punk like Dillinger Four, Dear Landlord, or Off With Their Heads, Denver’s Filthy Hearts newest album Beyond Repair, out now via Hidden Home Records, will most definitely be in your wheelhouse. It is honest and emotional, a catharsis masked behind gritty guitars and sing-along choruses.
“Every day I’m trying to be better than I used to be” is the very first lyric that greets us in the album opener “Ambulatory” and it sets the tone for the entirety of this album. Aggressively delivered self reflection followed with a catchy chorus of “Ambulatory, sick of being so fucking mean… tired of being bitter about everything” is the exact type of self awareness that makes this album so intriguing. The idea of self improvement while being acutely aware of your faults is an idea that everyone can get behind.
“Drinking Wells (is the Best Revenge)” is the type of desperate poetry that is only found at the bottom of the bottle, a way to find some chemically induced false courage in self confidence. This lack of confidence gets revisited in “Hiding Behind the Volume” which soon becomes real confidence once the “music takes my soul, and I forget about the past… the music makes you smile, and I know it’s not just me, and it’s time to go and have some fun.” Perhaps an indication that confidence may not need to be chemically induced. The idea of doing something you do well, as a means to overcoming the nemesis of overthinking, is a confidence booster, especially when there is the positive reinforcement of a crowd full of people have fun with you.
However Filthy Hearts must believe in delayed gratification because before they fully deliver on the fun time premise, they break your heart with a massive tempo break in “Voted Best City to be Lonely”. An almost acoustic number, that has an electric build and features a bassline that attempts to vibrate the sadness into your soul. The whiskey inspired poetry is moved to the forefront once again as “we both took a bottle of shots, and keep drinking till the dark takes you in. Hearts will remain empty tonight” they lament while the guitars develop an intensity that sucks you into the feeling of despair presented.
Immediately following this sadness is “I’ve Never Skanked a Day in My Life” a fun little blitzkrieg of a song. Encouraging us to clap our hands or stomp our feet and sing along, as a way to have fun and not think about tomorrow. “Get out of your mind and have a good time, It’s the only thing we can do better”
There are a few songs that cover the idea of finding things to do better or at the very least finding a way to escape from the way you think about problems, such as “Desire”, “Dreams of Youth” and the break-necked “Seasons”, but none better than ”Career Day” where they encourage you to run away from the machinations of the daily grind at a thankless job because “There’s a better life out there for you and me, a life off the clock, out of this machine.” The outro of “I want to run away” is delivered with such conviction and despair that it is chill inducing.
The album ends with “And I Don’t Even Have Kids” which evokes thoughts of a small bar packed to capacity with the entire crowd desperately singing along. By far their most political song, it comes across as a punk rock State of the Union, complete with back and forth vocals, driving and pulsating guitar work, sing along “woahs” and a giant middle finger to the “greedy selfish fucks” in our government. It almost seems that amongst the self reflection presented on this album, the environment we live in could be creating the very sense of sadness and despair presented.
On Beyond Repair Filthy Hearts deliver honest barrel-aged punk as they take the classic Midwestern sound and mix in a touch of hardcore and skatepunk. The result is an intrinsic experience best enjoyed sung out loud in a club full of your friends, a beer in one hand and a raised fist in the other. It is most certainly one of the years strongest albums and is most likely going to be on on some year end lists.