An expansive rock album which manages to sound fresh and current, despite having taken more than a decade to record
Recording for The Heart Contortionists began in 2006, before a series of events – including divorce, relocation and writer’s block – derailed both the album and Pleasant Grove. Reforming in 2012, the band returned to the demos and were impressed enough by what they heard to finally complete the record. That the resulting album is their best to date, suggests it was a wise move.
Somewhat strangely, The Heart Contortionist manages to sound alive and relevant. This isn’t a dusted down old relic being repackaged and sold as something new. It may be that the group’s expansive rock has a timeless feel to it, but there is also an original and experimental nature coursing through their Texan veins, which adds a needed dash of freshness.
Starting with what sounds like a rusty gate creaking, Why Did You Butcher Your Father? establishes this template early on. The chugging Disintegration (Consider Your Brother) puts a positive spin on the world’s end, before a triptych of tracks make up The Heart Contortionists Suite – a slow burner with hints of Lift To Experience.
Evidently the powers and sonic mastery of co-vocalists and guitarists, Marcus Striplin and Bret Egner are as impressive as ever. The sprawling Donor is a brooding masterpiece which makes you realise just what we’ve all been missing. Let’s hope it doesn’t take Pleasant Grove another decade to record the follow up.
Verdict: Very much worth the wait