“What goes around comes back around”, croons Lockhearts singer Tim Meaco in the ending of ‘Leatherface’, first track on the debut album from these Sydney-based rockers.
This seemingly simple phrase could be viewed as a type of mission statement for this album, seemingly derived of the recent trend that birthed Greta Van Fleet and had nostalgic punters digging through their old Zeppelin vinyl to hear where it all began. It’s endearing to identify Australia’s own contemporary contribution to this rehashed cock-rocking, mojo gang vibe, similar to a band like The Darkness. Whilst seemingly celebrating the thrills of their chosen lifestyle before their demographic, it’s fortunate The Lockhearts have such a solid album backing them up.
In a classic production choice, Steve Woodward’s tough, crisp drums begin the album, amongst sounds of strings being stretched and amps warming up; readying our minds for some vast, swirling slabs of guitar. This swampy stadium groove evolves for four bars through a simple riff pattern not too unlike ‘Whole Lotta Love’. Through this journeyman’s perspective of rock’s past, potent displays of psychedelia are also here in the mix, breaking down the stadium grooves of first track ‘Leatherface’ for a washy, Tame Impala-like guitar interlude halfway through. Complimented with some original Southern States arena rock vibes, reminiscent of Lynyrd Skynyrd or the Allman Brothers, this acid-tinged mix is a strong incentive for deeper listening; helping to fulfil a brand of this ‘Americana fuzz’. For students of pop culture, plenty more nods to Led Zeppelin are buried in the album, be it second track ‘The Ocean’, flashes of blues harp or folky harmonica on the same track and ‘London Bound’, a ‘Dazed and Confused’-style harmonics lick in the outro of ‘Leatherface’, or Woodward’s penchant for slow-stomping drum breaks, stuck in the pocket. Meaco’s voice is soaring, unrestrained and full of soul, guiding the emotional climaxes or restrained intimacy to be found within the album, in the mellower moments as heard on ‘London Bound’. Furthermore, delicate acoustic moments are found to be reminiscent of acoustic Page & Plant or the predominantly acoustic style of Led Zeppelin III, as when the intro of ‘London Bound’ echoes the spoken word count-in of ‘Tangerine’. It’s not hard to identify the influences of The Lockhearts. Fortunately, these Aussies can put their own spin on proceedings with added distortion, operatic vocals and Southern Rock vibes.
The addition of many positive and cathartic choruses help make commerciality viable for this album, with the dreamy vibes of utopian hippy summers, cans of beer and coastal sunshine filtering through on songs such as third track ‘Call For Help’. These elements therefore undermine the peculiar ‘doom’ tag, a style of music associated with fog, cold, rain and its birthplace of Birmingham, UK. Similarly, the fuzz underpins most heavy tracks with subtlety, coming across more as stadium distortion than the low-end snarl of stoner rock. I believe the only suitable moniker of the album title is ‘Americana’, as to be heard with the slow-burning ballads of ‘London Bound’ and ‘If I Was Your Man’, the rich bluesy instrumentation of slide guitar and blues harp, and Meaco’s apparent vocal osmosis of Steven Tyler meets Greg Allman. The heaviest moments of the LP can be found in second-last track ‘Spectre at the Feast’, with funeral organ and downtrodden riff pushing the song halfway towards reputable doom rock territory. Close at least on this track, but no cigars to be seen. Although half the tracks blur into forgettable rock fodder, this is still a confident and tastefully executed debut LP for The Lockhearts, with some enjoyable riffs and fantastic vocal performances. Best enjoyed tipsy on a beach somewhere.
- The Ocean
- Call For Help
- Little Eden
- London Bound
- Goddamn Pretty
- If I Was Your Man
- Ride Home
- Spectre at the Feast