The Idol Dead are one of the best examples I’ve seen in recent years for not judging a book by its cover. Their second album ‘Dark Little Hearts’ features a rock ‘n’ roll cliché on the cover (woman being pleasured), their band logo uses a pre-existing font and is type-set like ‘tHE iDoL DeaD’ and the promotional photos of the band included in the booklet make them look like Green Day circa 2004. Their album artwork looks like it was put together by a friend with no prior art experience but when you listen to the thing you soon realise that the naff packaging is hiding a rather polished slab of punk rock.
The Idol Dead sound like a cross between A, The Offspring and Feeder which means their sound is all about big riffs and bigger choruses. ‘Dark Little Hearts’ is stuffed full of infectious melodies and plenty of Dexter Holland-eque whoas to give crowds something to sing back at the band. It’s also bolstered by a nice, bright production job which compliments the bouncy, up-beat nature of the record but doesn’t compromise the satisfying chunkiness of the band’s riffs.
Album highlights come in the form of the high energy Offspring-a-like ‘Bad Fiction’ which explodes off the starting line and doesn’t let up for the whole 2 and half minutes. Massive, head-banging riffs are also delivered in songs like ‘Six Feet Under’ and the slightly more downbeat ‘You Don’t Know’. The band know exactly how to maximise on their contagious melodies and even if they’re nothing technically proficient you’ll have a hard time not enjoying the pure fun-factor the band deliver.
Even when the typical rock ballad rolls around in the form of ‘I’m Drowning’ the band still manage to fill it with great melodies and a unnecessarily catchy chorus. The addition of female vocals also adds a nice bit of variety to the testosterone filled record and the whole thing is topped off with a brilliant guitar solo. The Idol Dead have got this song-writing thing nailed.
There is a problem with ‘Dark Little Hearts’ though; you’ve heard it all before. Punk rock is an over-saturated scene that is desperate for a shot of originality, but The Idol Dead can’t deliver it. The band never pull out any surprises and the songs are generally all the same tempo and follow the same structure. This is not to say that The Idol Dead haven’t written a great collection of songs, it’s just that by the half-way point you’ve pretty much heard everything the band are offering.
Regardless, if you’re looking for a punk rock record loaded with great melodies and riffs then The Idol Dead have got you covered. ‘Dark Little Hearts’ is a solid punk record that sounds absolutely huge despite having a hard time offering something original. If The Idol Dead released this record back when Green Day were releasing ‘American Idiot’ then they would have given the band a real run for their money, but in 2014 the band really need to find something else to give them an edge in a considerably over-populated market.
The Idol Dead’s ‘Dark Little Hearts’ is out now and available to buy directly from the band.