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Haunted Hearts: Initiation

Haunted Hearts Initiation album reviewHaunted Hearts — Initiation

Release date(s): May 27
Our Rating: 4/5
Spec Recs: “Up Is Up (But So Is Down),” “Something That Feels Bad Is Something That Feels Good,” “Strange Intentionso”
One Word: Shadowy

When Dee Dee Penny of the Dum Dum Girls and Brandon Welchez of the Crocodiles decided to collaborate, we weren’t sure what the outcome would be. Would the music merge into something new, or would the husband and wife stick to their respective styles?

The answer to this question is Haunted Hearts‘ Initiation, the wonderfully spacey-meets-’90s-galore LP. According to the outfit’s press release, Penny and Welchez created this album “in the winter of 2012, holed up in their apartment, surrounded by a lot of books, Motown, and Krautrock.” The couple was writing about the 1970’s and 1980’s S&M subculture of New York, which had to have been a fascinating movement! With that inspiration, they embarked on the formation of their LP.

The journey through Initiation feels something like navigating the shadowy alleyways of the 1980s. The sounds blur, lyrics echo and beats amplify in the open space. Add the beautiful harmonies of dream pop and a heavy dose of shoegaze, and you’ve got the album covered.

The first track, “Initiate Me,” is as invigorating as it sounds. The Go Go’s– and Toni Basil-style drum beats make the song sound like a very ’80s adventure. It’s peppy, but the darkwave influences are apparent in the hard bass lines and minor notes, sung by Penny. The Tron-like spectacle then merges into a dreamier shoegaze track, “Up Is Up (But So Is Down).” Penny and Welchez’s delicate harmonies are the real treat here, as are the heavy synthesizer and distorted guitar pieces.

My favorite track on the album also happens to be one of the Haunted Hearts’ first singles. “Something That Feels Bad Is Something That Feels Good” is energized, yet spacey. Penny sweetly croons, “You can tie me up if I can tie you down.” As she describes the age-old trick of using femininity to gain protection and commitment, one can’t help but relate. (How many of us ladies have thought this a time or two?) As the song winds down, both band members string together several back-to-back repetitions of “something that feels bad is something that feels good” over and over, and it plays with perspective. Suddenly you’ve been lulled into quietness, asking yourself, which bad thing was supposed to be good?

After that, the album tends to blur together with Penny and Welchez’s style. “Johnny Jupiter” is youthfully romantic, then “House of Lords” brings back the relaxed darkwave influence that is present throughout the LP.

The general space-age tone of the album comes to a head in “Love Incognito,” a song chock full of martian wubs and heavy tambourine. It’s rather like floating away into the stars atop a giant saucer, and I like it. Then “Strange Intentions” follows, a happily aggressive track, heavy on the S&M influence. “Strange intentions / You are a pleasure, you are a pleasure” echoes, an obvious reminder of the album’s inspiration.

Initiation proves that yes, it is possible to take two different musicians and have them generate something uncommonly beautiful. In this case, the husband-and-wife team of Haunted Hearts has shown that it’s possible to create a new spin on iconic ’90s music.

Initiation is available now on iTunes.


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