36vultures

Review: Heartless Breakers, ‘The Great Give Back’

Written By: Joel Funk Edited By: Caitlin Kohn

I’ve been talking about bands that take me back to the mid 2000’s a lot lately. I don’t make a conscious effort to do so, but a lot of what I end up reviewing really hits me right in the nostalgia. We saw it a couple of weeks ago when I reviewed the incredible debut album from Makeshift Shelters, and you’re going to hear about it again today, only not so feverishly.  Heartless Breakers is the new project of Matt Mascarenas, formerly of Daytrader, and their debut album ‘The Great Give Back’ is an incredible mid-2000’s emo record. That’s to be expected when you talk about an FFO that includes the likes of Taking Back Sunday, Armor For Sleep, and Thrice.

The influence taken from those same bands is immediately apparent on ‘The Great Give Back’, and it greets you with open arms. I found myself completely swept up in the opening riff of “Right Mistakes,” and the vocals kicked in and, in the best way possible, I was lost. I can promise you that had this record come out during the golden age of Myspace, there would have been a point in time where this is what you would have heard upon visiting my profile. I feel like an obnoxiously angsty kid when this song comes on, and I love that.

I can’t even begin to tell you how great “Carbon Copy” is. If you’ve heard the song already, you should understand. If not, here’s my attempt at explaining it. To get things started, the track is incredibly catchy. One of the best parts of this song is the fact that the chorus changes every time with the exception of the line “So leave the bedroom light on with the door cracked open.” Each time the chorus hits, it’s a further development in lyrical storytelling. And then before the last chorus, there’s an acoustic bridge that sounds so much like something off the last The Early November record. The vocals are on par with those of Enders, and I dare you to tell me that it doesn’t remind you of “Digital Age.”

Every record has a sweet spot, but the entire first half of this album is said sweet spot. The first five songs on ‘The Great Give Back’ are incredible, and the fact that almost all of them were released as singles stands as a testament to that. The only one of the five not released is “An Aching Kind of Growing,” and I can see why it wasn’t chosen to promote the album. The song is great, but it’s a very mild-tempered song and gets off to a very slow start. It wouldn’t have done the Heartless Breakers sound immediate justice, and so it sits as a hidden gem, waiting to be heard. Interestingly enough, this is also a pretty accurate summary of the record as a whole.

Every song on this album feels confident, complete, and huge. There’s not a single part of this record that feels like it deserves to be skipped over, because you can hear the heart and soul that went into this record. Songs like “Subdued” and “Liquid Confidence” live on the second half of this record. These are also tracks that I would love to see made into post-release singles, especially that of the first of the two.

“Liquid Confidence” is one of the biggest feeling songs on the record. This is the song that could make Heartless Breakers a much more recognizable name. And if I can talk again about the feeling of nostalgia and time travel, it would have been an immediate success in the mid 2000’s, and would probably have launched them into the same heights as bands like Armor For Sleep. The song is just so tangible and feels refreshing.

I’m going to break away from the music for a second and talk about the aesthetic. Beyond the sound we’ve been talking about up to this point the album art for ‘The Great Give Back’ is incredible. It feels like it was ripped out right out of the 00’s, and really adds something to the record. Obviously not in listening quality, but its nice to see a record presented as a whole package that just works.

Before we go, I want to talk about the catharsis that is the instrumental title track of this record. I don’t have very much to say without being incredibly repetitive, but you should know that it really brings the album together. It’s a surprisingly great end to this record that gives the listener a sense of closure. If nothing else, it makes ‘The Great Give Back’ feel like a very complete, well-planned body of work.

Heartless Breakers are, and deserve to be, proud of their debut album, and it’s not hard to see why. ‘The Great Give Back’ is packed full of incredible gems, and the listening experience as a whole is admirable. Every track feels at home in its place on the record, and have helped make this album into stunning body of work that it is. Hopefully people eat this record up, and if not, I know that it will go down as one of the biggest blunders looking back. 5/5