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The Human Hearts


(Shrimper; US: 30 Oct 2011; UK: 30 Oct 2011)

Franklin Bruno is one of the great power-pop songwriters of the past few decades. His work with Nothing Painted Blue was often classic, and his records with John Darnielle—as the Extra Lens (or Glenns, depending)—are lessons in great lyricism and melody. Another is the first proper, wide release from his latest band, The Human Hearts, and this album is a great collection, a pure, catchy pop set that island-hops across genres without losing Bruno’s ear for melody or knack for detail and tongue-in-cheek charm.

“Cheap Sunglasses” is a perfect acoustic pop number, and sets up the more exploratory piano balladry of “California Baby” or the shuffling “Millionaire On Paper”. There’s also the bossa nova take “Times Mirror Square” that represents the best step out of Bruno’s power-pop wheel house. Of course, he doesn’t forget to hit us with some sweet rock tunes like opener “See Me as a Lover” or the blistering, Costello-esque “I Don’t Know You Anymore”. Rarely are pop records this willing to explore genre while keeping each song an airtight composition. Twenty-odd years into his career, Bruno is as sharp as ever, and Another is just his latest excellent, confident exploration of the most fruitful outposts of pop and rock music.


Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.

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