Review of The Heavy's album The House That Dirt Built released through Ninja Tunes.
The House That Dirt Built is The Heavy's genre busting second album. It is a huge great mixing pot of dirty garage-rock, scuzzy punk riffs, the odd rock-a-billy love song and a whole lot of soul.
Amazingly, The Heavy manage to take all this and blend it into an album with an identity rather than just a collection of songs. Opening with an eerie monologue from a horror film, they then crash into Oh No! Not You Again! Easily the best track on the album: heavy garage-rock riffs, Kevin Swaby's soul voice taking on a rougher rock edge, and with backing vocals from the Noisettes, it kick-starts the album perfectly.
The album flips from garage-rock to punk to a hint of country but has a soulful, bluesy sound throughout. There are nods to retro greats like James Brown (How You Like Me Now?) and the guitar riffs of No Time are classic Hendrix inspired. Yet The Heavy don't imitate, they create a unique sound that is diverse and stays fresh throughout the album.
Just when you're settling into the rock riffs and garage-punk, they throw in Short Change Hero. With its rock-a-billy western style intro, it sets a fantastic scene and yet again, the band make the genre their own.
The only song that really doesn't work is Cause For Alarm, a reggae effort that stretches the them a step too far and ends up sounding a bit try hard. However, the quality of the rest of the songs on the album more than make up for it.
The House That Dirt Built closes with the beautifully mellow I'm Stuck, where Swaby sings; 'I'm stuck, until you make your mind up' in that soulful falsetto over delicate strings. It just highlights the diversity of his vocals and the band as a whole. The album seems to have missed out on mainstream success, but it is surely one of the best kept secrets you'll hear this year.