Album review

The Wildhearts : Coupled With
Gut Recordings

The Wildhearts : Coupled WithFour albums released in a stop-start career, and Coupled With makes it three B-sides and rarities compilations . . . and that's a conservative estimate as The Wildhearts discography is a maze of revamped re-releases and imports. What is certain is that The Wildhearts are one of the few bands whose B-sides are worth collecting, as some of their past efforts have eclipsed their more recognisable material.

The tracks from Coupled With have all been recorded since the band reformed in 2001, and it features all the songs from the Japan-only release Riff After Riff After Motherfucking Riff bar Vanilla Radio, which can be found on last album proper, The Wildhearts Must Be Destroyed. This ain't a simple re-release though, as there are 16 other tracks here, and if you can fight your way through the on-off production you'll find some real gems.
    Former single Stormy In The North, Karma In The South is not only a great tune, but has a typical punny title, as much a recurring Wildhearts theme as frontman Ginger's belief in the band as the last gang in town.
    "Eager To Leave 'er, you're trying to please her, now you're on your back like a golden retriever" goes Eager To Leave 'er, and it's obvious that the wry wit and magic which created the fabulous Earth vs. The Wildhearts all those years ago is still hanging around.
    Elsewhere, a naggingly familiar riff sees me reaching for the CD case to find out that yes, The Wildhearts have recording a chugging rock 'n' roll version of the Cheers theme. And y'know, it's a Wildhearts song. It always had been and I just didn't realise it.

All The Wildhearts' peers are either no longer with us or are a shadow of their former selves - Terrorvision, Therapy?, The Almighty . . . The Wildhearts are no longer the monsterous riff machine that they once were, but last year's The Wildhearts Must Be Destroyed was better than we could have reasonably hoped for. Coupled With is just the latest chapter in the career of one of the UK's most contrary rock bands, but when all's said and done they still have the potential to be amongst the very best.

:: Rowan Shaeffer

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