One of the most important things that a band can do is come up with a good name. It may seem simple, but it can determine whether a band sinks or swims. Good band have sunk due to a bad name, bad bands have flourished with a good name behind them. Young Heart Attack is a good name for a rock band.
The album cover has a Flying V guitar on the bonnet of a Ford Mustang, which is supposed to look menacing, bleak but most of all delinquent. I think this is the same feel that the band themselves are trying to achieve. Young, delinquent twentysomethings who could not give a damn about, well, anything. It works on some levels, but the amount of effort that has gone in shows that they do care and that they are not the delinquent, rebellious filth that they perhaps think they are.
That said, what we do have is a rock ‘n’ roll album that, despite only lasting half an hour, has enough energy to fuel the neon lights of Las Vegas, and so much so that you’d be able to see the lights from space. The energy that I talk off eeks and sweats from the songs and it’s infectious almost to the point of annoyance. I must have played Starlite 10 times before I heard the rest of the album properly.
The album has bite, attitude and swagger, but rather than James Dean, it’s a high school impersonator since the excellent production on all the songs takes away some of the rebellion.
The opening, title track opens with a very familiar guitar riff and explodes from all directions as the riff loops and loops until the singers come in. This is where Young Heart Attack have the upper hand on many (not all) of their peers; two singers. Lead singers Chris Hodge and Jennifer Stephens duel and vie for microphone space like two banshee hounds on heat.
It is this competition for the mic and the consequent confidence they take from each other that gives them something else. Starlite, Mouthful Of Love, To The Teeth – the songs when this duel fest is most apparent – are by far the best. The numbers where Chris takes more of the singing duties feel slightly less in comparison.
Draw comparisons from where you like, because there are many (the intro to The Who‘s Wont Get Fooled Again being the most obviously ripped-off part). Bands like The Darkness are compared to AC/DC much too readily; YHA have more grounds than most for comparison, but I think that with their spiralling guitar riffs, banshee singing, high production levels, The Datsuns, rather than The White Stripes or Led Zeppelin, are the yardstick by which to compare.
As the seething guitars pound your speakers, one thing feels apparent in this music – how much fun the band seem to be having. Nowhere is this heard more clearly than in the break to MC5‘s Sick Of Doing Time. If you want a part of the fun, explore this album.