Of all the terms that could potentially be applied to Metal Hearts, what seems most appropriate is “ironically smart.” The band can’t be properly critiqued. The members claim to dislike their record. They write music less poppy than most musicians their age, but the music lacks complexity. They’re multi-instrumentalists who play extremely simple parts. Their lyrics appear to be written from a number of perspectives that might simply belong to each respective songwriter. They’re a coed pair but have been mistakenly referred to as “boys” in the press. Are they worth the effort?
Flora Wolpert-Checknoff and Anar Badalov — the former being that ambiguous female, the latter born in Azerbaijan, both based in Baltimore and not yet twenty years old — began their musical hobby two years ago and turned it into a full-time project after mutually leaving their separate colleges (Wolpert-Checknoff in Rhode Island and Badalov in Montreal). After moving in together and recording a self-released debut, Escapists, at home, what followed were New York tours lasting mere days, press in their hometown, and Socialize.
Socialize‘s title track appears to be negative commentary on a typical social habit, deeming pretty girls “persuasive,” a “pretty sight” making “for a very grim night,” permitting the subjects to go on and socialize. The members of Metal Hearts are the kids at your school who wander alone, wishing to be outsiders who wallow over lost love and criticize the inner circle. There’s nothing ironic about that quality anymore. Toying with depression and twisting it into poetry — “I’m so empty I can’t feel, so empty I can’t deal” (“Ocean Song”) — is practically a prerequisite for the young songwriter. But Wolpert-Checknoff and Badalov don’t care about irony. They care about filling their inner void.
Their music is far more mature than what the average group of nineteen-year-olds gets famous for as of late, but their choices make them sound much younger than other bands in their genre. Hushed, underdeveloped voices reveal the perspective of the swinger-charmer-gentleman just as timidly as that of the “worthless little shit wasting time in her own mind, living by her wit.” Guitar strings are plucked deliberately and with dawdling speed while a drum machine fills in gaps. Wolpert-Checknoff’s saxophone adds a sensual sense of mystery to the swinger-charmer-gentleman’s confession right before the worthless little shit reckons herself an “ice-capped Everest.” They want to be the basket-case, but they’re only coming off as Ally Sheedy. It’s impossible to know whether the band members are genuinely introspective or simply desire to play the mutual role of outsider — maybe their third album will find them putting on a headband and getting made over. Then we’ll have our answer.
“Socialize” MP3 (Right Click Save As)
“Foothills” MP3 (Right Click Save As)Streaming audio