My Star (Blue Vinyl)
Chicago trio The Hecks have been at it since 2012, starting out as the duo of guitarist Andy Mosiman & Zach Hebert. The band drafted guitarist Dave Vettraino into the fold, a recording engineer who was recording the band's s/t debut (Trouble In Mind, 2016) & ended up joining the band In 2017. The band's journey to the end result of "My Star" - their second album - has taken them three years.
After recording an initial version of the album in 2017, The Hecks started gigging with new fourth member & keyboardist Jeff Graupner, whose synthesized squiggles added some welcome heft & swagger to the band's tunes. After reworking & rearranging much of the new material to accommodate Graupner, the band scrapped the recordings & rebuilt them from the ground up, incorporating Graupner's skills at the keys. The results speak for themselves, as "My Star" is a gigantic leap forward for the band, absorbing everything from "Manscape"-era Wire to Paisley Park nu-funk to abstract new wave & art-rock plucked straight from the Cold Storage playbook. Much of "My Star"s ten tracks are designed to bewilder; the production is intentionally disorienting, with the mix tipped toward the treble, alternating from sparse to confoundingly dense at times, but never at a disservice to the songs themselves. Opener "Zipper"s intertwining guitar jabs & synth lines herk & jerk so rapidly it's liable to break your neck, while lead track "So 4 Real"s neon-laced dayglo soul ratchets up the mutant funk throb so tightly that the lilting, melodic guitar break at the chorus is a welcome dose of ear-candy. "Heat Wave" dials it back, reveling in romantic washes of synth and flange & it's yearning refrain of "It's tearing me apart, ripping out my heart again"; a captivating, slow-burning ballad unlike anything the band has done before. Meanwhile, album closer (and title track) "My Star" is so cinematic, it feels like the lost end credits scene to a heartfelt teen drama, with its end coda taking up the bulk of the song's near-eight minute run time.
"My Star" is designed to make you move, you just have to let it.
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