The Pheromoans - Hearts of Gold
The band's most accomplished album to date, skilfully making mundaneness sound invigorating with a sound surviving the Britpop hangover
(Upset The Rhythm)
Brighton’s Pheromoans see the world through a slightly cloudy pint glass, in parts reminiscent of the experimental rock of the Fall at their sloppy best, 60s surf rock and the early stripped-down, DIY tape approach of the Shadow Ring’s kitchen sink observations, a very prevalent influence on the early days of the group. The Pheromoans are a quintessentially English-weirdo ensemble with a reluctant sound that has managed to survive a Britpop hangover, through the pomposity of avant garde and post punk in full circle. Poet-turned-frontman Russell Walker politely mumbles his daydreams over the group's most realised and polished songs to date; opener ‘Coach Trip’ adds a pastoral punk visage to ‘Hearts of Gold’ which wouldn’t be amiss off a Sarah Records compilation, a scenic and appropriate invitation.
There’s a buried frustration about Walker’s lyricism, heard on the baggy Madchester vibe on ‘Dried Dreams’, the stringed moodiness of ‘Let’s Celebrate’ and over a Human League synth build-up on ‘Chung Said’, but it’s his vulnerable delivery that acts as the wobbly adhesive which keeps the jangling glory of the rhythm section loosely in line – a less is more approach in the purist sense. The album is also incredibly upbeat at times for the sum of its parts – title track ‘Hearts of Gold’ is a perfect anthem for summer showers in overpriced beer gardens.
First single ‘The Boys are British’ might just be their finest moment, a comical and heartfelt diatribe telling the tale of two rejected army cadets, amid a strummed acoustic, wiry synth repetition and trademark voice cracks throughout. Making mundaneness sound invigorating is quite a skilled trick in itself – with this their most confidently produced and rounded off selection of songs, the Pheromoans have delivered their best album to date, following a fine tradition of English existentialist apathy.