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Metal Hearts | Socialize (Suicide Squeeze)

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Metal Hearts is 18-year-old Anar Badalov and 19-year-old Flora Wolpert-Checknoff, a Baltimore duo who met in 2004 and began writing songs together via e-mail from their respective college campuses.

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The drum machine always seemed as though it would be a brilliant addition to indie rock, to give it a kick in the pants during those moments when it feels too moody to bear. Underscoring lush melodies with a kinetic beat was an epiphany waiting to explode onto the indie world, a light bulb ding that has now become commonplace with the Postal Service blaring forth from movie trailers and TV commercials. While the Postal Service didn’t necessarily patent the indie-electronica sound, there haven’t been many bands that have followed their lead. That might remain the case, as it turns out. Metal Hearts’ debut album Socialize furthers the indie rock/drum machine combo, but as much as a comparison to the Postal Service seems warranted, they just don’t sound anything like them. And that’s actually a wonderful thing, as the band proves the genre’s versatility by taking it in a direction that is completely different but equally riveting.

Metal Hearts is 18-year-old Anar Badalov and 19-year-old Flora Wolpert-Checknoff, a Baltimore duo who met in 2004 and began writing songs together via e-mail from their respective college campuses. However, both realized that university life wasn’t for them, so they got an apartment together back in Baltimore where they could work from the same locale. The result is Socialize, a stunning collaboration that, like an uncut diamond, is as raw as it is polished. It is amazingly put-together in composition, sounding like something that other bands might have worked for years to achieve, yet it also maintains the alluring roughness of music that has never passed through the filters of overproduction. It is a simple union of layered, moody melodies over drilled drumbeats, an uncomplicated combination of sound that magically meshes into one of the most captivating albums you’ll hear this year.

Both Badalov and Wolpert-Checknoff sing on Socialize, their male and female voices fusing together over subdued guitar melodies with the occasional saxophone or violin floating in. Both band members seem to have an innate sense of timing, as well as a heightened sense of which notes sound best together and which hit hardest when coupled with their lyrics. The album is certainly moody, providing a dreamy bedroom soundtrack and at times even evoking the languid sensation of swallowing NyQuil. The moodiness is, however, immediately tempered by the wakeful pulse of the drum machine, and the music perpetually avoids falling into the doldrums of despair.

While the sound is novel, it isn’t without its influences. The soldering together of Badalov and Wolpert-Checknoff’s voices creates an uncanny resemblance to Isaac Brock’s distinctive voice, and as a result Metal Hearts at times sounds like a darker Modest Mouse. They also bear a likeness to Cat Power and Dirty Three in their use of swirling, gloomy melodies, and the album could possibly pass as a remake of Moon Pix with Brock singing guest vocals. Neither of these comparisons is a bad thing, however, and Metal Hearts maintains a unique sound that manages to surpass any likeness to other bands. That’s a difficult feat to accomplish, but with such transfixing melodies and that kinetic drumbeat, Metal Hearts has created a space all their own.

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