HAERTS is a four-piece indie pop group from Brooklyn, N.Y. Around this time last year, the band released Hemiplegia through Columbia Records. The EP paid tribute to the disco-pop sensibilities of the 1980s while attempting to renew the sound with a glossy production and a careful attention to currents trends in indie pop (see Grimes).
This time around, HAERTS brings more of the same hook-laden compositions (“Hemiplegia” and “Wings” from Hemiplegia actually reappear on Haerts). Heavy with shimmering synths and dreamy production, Haerts does its best to encompass the listener in a thick blanket of feelings. Moody backing instrumentals carry lead singer Nini Fabi as she croons about vague notions of love and makes lofty metaphors about “darkness” and “floating away.” Everything about the formula that HAERTS adheres to makes perfect sense, and yet there is something undeniably hollow about the execution of the album.
One thing is for sure: Haerts knows its roots. There are moments on the LP where it feels like HAERTS is almost too aware of the retro decade to which they pay homage—”Call My Name” is essentially Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” watered-down and repackaged. While I admire the shamelessness of the tribute, HAERTS hasn’t quite got the chops to play it this safe without bringing anything new to the table.
At the end of the day, Haerts feels too comfortable in its own unremarkable skin. The band is fully conscious of their influences and seems perfectly happy treading ground that had been trodden to oblivion by artists who have proven to be far more capable than HAERTS. Unfortunately, their output has yet to surpass “sleepy background noise.” However, if you yearn for the lost era of cheese pop and hair metal, you may find some value in Haerts. In this case, make sure you pre-order the album from iTunes. Otherwise, don’t feel bad passing this one up.