For a while there, following a couple of anniversary tours and last year’s Britrock Must Be Destroyed jaunt with Terrorvision, Reef and Dodgy, it looked like The Wildhearts had been relegated to the bin marked “90s Nostalgia”. However, rather than signalling an unwarranted and unwelcome end, the tours instead sparked a rebirth, reuniting the classic lineup of Ginger, CJ, Danny McCormack and Rich Battersby. The result of this (apologies in advance) renaissance is Renaissance Men, the band’s first album in 10 years and arguably their best since 1993 debut Earth vs. The Wildhearts. Clearly something very wonderful happens when these four men get together.
From the urgent intro of Dislocated to the abrupt ending of Pilo Erection it’s clear that no bandwagons have been involved in the making of this album, and this is Wildhearts as we know and love ’em, but only the absolute very best will do. Whereas past releases have offered flashes of influence (a glimmer of The Beatles here, a Ramones riff or Stiff Little Fingers melody there) Renaissance Men sounds like a band delving into the back catalogue of one band and one band only, The Wildhearts. Tracks like Fine Art of Deception, Diagnosis and Emergency (Fentanyl Babylon) sound like they have always been on Earth vs, you just didn’t notice until now, and unofficial Splattermania sequel My Kinda Movie could have come straight off their much underrated eponymous sixth or even The Wildhearts Must Be Destroyed, while CJ’s Little Flower is a full power PHUQ-fest. On top of that, the Frank Turner-featuring Let ‘Em Go might just be the most anthemic song Ginger has every written. Just let that last sentence sink in for a moment. The most anthemic song Ginger has ever written. Ginger Wildheart. Fucking hell!
In 2010, MonkHammer was in a dark place. A holiday was needed and a holiday was taken. Among the trips to volcanic springs, servings of whale and puffin soup, and nights out with people claiming to be Bjork’s niece, a day-long snowmobile safari was booked. Atop an Icelandic glacier, feeling a thousand miles from anyone and anything, travelling at what felt like 80mph over pristine white snow with a hazy afternoon sun high in the sky and a tour group way ahead trickling over the horizon like ants, the secret MP3 player hidden beneath my 14 layers selected The Jackson Whites from The Wildhearts’ previous release, Chutzpah. With every riff and chorus of that song I felt more alive, more invincible, more capable of tackling literally anything the world could throw at me. In that moment I was unstoppable. Put simply, that feeling is Renaissance Men.
Welcome back, boys.
Renaissance Men is out now via Graphite Records