Emancipated Hearts

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Dean Wareham's debut solo EP opens with "Love Is Colder Than Death", a country tinged and occasionally jaunty (despite the subject matter) number that acts as a statement of intent. Despite the recent penchant for bands cloning Galaxie 500's distinctive shoegazing drawl, their frontman is moving into slightly different territory, even if that territory may seem relatively safe to some. After-all, when you've borderline perfected a genre, why bother treading the same water, even if it is 20 odd years later. Title track "Emancipated Hearts" is pulsing like an early Spiritualized record, with a torn up vocal sitting on top of a repetitive hook and a soothingly hypnotic organ/violin arrangement (interestingly, despite the Orwellian and Betjeman references on this track, Wareham admitted "as I sang this I was thinking about Julian Assange"). There's even a refrain that sounds a bit like Little Drummer Boy tacked on for good measure. It seems like much of the youthful rage of those classic Galaxie 500 records has evaporated from Wareham (both vocally and musically) which makes for a more accessible sound, but there's still an air of the outsider about the way these tracks have been put together. Much of this is down to Jason Quever's warming production which also allows the instruments room to breathe. The songs were recorded at Tiny Telephone Studios in San Francisco and I take it that Wareham was happy with the way they were recorded as Quever gets a huge credit on the front sleeve art for the EP, which I don't think I've ever seen before. "The Ticking Is The Bomb" is a great example of Wareham and Quever working together to make a seamless slow burning ballad, complete with cosy harmonies, flickers of piano and that trademark jangly guitar. Its a typically autumnal record despite the obvious differences with Wareham's previous output. A tantalising, if all too brief, teaser until next year's full length debut is released.