Haerts is a band that, at first glance, seems intriguingly unique. They are a band whose member’s birthplaces range from Germany to Ohio to the United Kingdom. All of which came together with the help of South-African artist/producer Jean-Philip Grobler, better known as St. Lucia. Haerts founding members, and primary creative forces, Nini Fabi and Ben Gebert met in Germany at a young age and come from musical families. Gebert began his musical journey as early as age three, composing his own classical pieces by ten. This is why it was so surprising that the result of all this interesting collaboration, their self-titled debut album, is at times boring and ultimately painfully average.
When approaching a band’s debut output you can often look to their first singles to identify what it was that won over music execs. With Haerts, you need only listen to their opening album singles, “All the Days”, “Hemiplegia” and “Wings” to get an idea of what every other song will likely consist of. The album’s opener, “All My Days” begins with a thumping bass line which serves to underlie Fabi’s skilled, yet not particularly ground-breaking vocals. The song then slowly unfolds, evolving into a quality pop song, equipped with a catchy chorus and toe-tapping arrangement. The problem is that this may be the high point of the entire record, and it is simply too forgettable of a track to make that fact a badge of honor.
Haerts continues on in essentially the same format as the opening song with a few, minute variations. Although probably self-labeled as “indie”, the album is decidedly pop. Each song revolves around a forty-or-so second pop hook which is then repeated 3 or 4 times, only broken up by less-than-stellar breakdowns that seems wedged in only to break the monotony. This structure can work for a time, but when expanded to encompass an entire album, seems contrived and unimaginative. This is especially shocking considering Geberts experience with composition.
Nini Fabi’s lyrics do nothing to help the bland nature of the songwriting. Chorus heavy songs are not inherently a turnoff but can be when they feature such unsophisticated revelations like, “You can’t move up, with your eyes down”, the chorus to the albums second single, “Hemiplegia”. Another example of this come at the albums middle point, “Heart” (this time spelled correctly). From the opening line “I will never break your heart”, said without the least bit of irony, I completely lost interest in what, if anything, it is Fabi wanted to say.
When it comes down to it, I can understand why a music executive would take the chance on Haerts. They seem to have all the ingredients of a successful indie-pop band within today’s landscape. Who knows, maybe the somewhat catchy choruses will be enough to make this a reality. The whole just does not come together to equal the sum of its parts. That’s not to say there isn’t something within Hearts that is somewhat good, the band will just have to find a way to stray a little bit from their tiresome formula to keep listeners interested.