Just in time for summer over here in the UK, New Orleans duo Generationals are back with a third installment, this time in the shape of a bright, breezy, shamelessly poppy civil partnership of guitar and electronica. Heza lacks the exuberance and flamboyance of 2009’s debut Con Law, and the unadulterated cheeriness of 2011 follow-up Actor-Caster, but the refining of the duet’s science has resulted in arguably their tightest album to date. Delightfully catchy guitar pop is Heza’s finished article, tight in its simplicity and with enough of a sophisticated edge to set it apart from many in its bracket.
It’s been verified many times in the past that overcomplicating song structures, meshing together an overelaborate swath of influences, and a lack of focus on the true strengths of an outfit can lead to a band’s potential and motive being clouded by the sheer mass of what is transpiring. The motive of Heza, however, is clear from the outset. Opening track Spinoza triggers a perky bounce from the first beat, resonating a revamped CSS, or Julian Casablancas and Co. without an abundance of leather and a plethora of shades. Spinoza will have you responding to its inviting, metronomic elasticity in the way of a glowing beam, or an on-the-edge-of-control display of anatomical vivacity. It ends as suddenly as it begins, paving a progressional path for the marriage of bass and electronica that is the beginning of Extra Free Year, blissfully equipped with a horizontal motif and a refraining vocal that does everything to confirm the summery, beach-like vibe that Spinoza had established a couple of minutes prior.
The addictive fetch of Heza shows no sign of rehabilitation, with the band’s trademark melodic prowess shining as strong as the sunshine that should accompany it with Say When. Vocals continue to be an appropriate undertone to the mirthful electrics, served on a conveyor belt that fluctuates in speed, moving as fast as it wants to at any given time.
One of the albums more prominent highlights comes along at a point where the conveyor belt is enjoying more of a gentle saunter, smack bang in the middle of the LP. Put a Light On is an exhibition of GrantWidmer and Ted Joyner’s ability to incorporate the band’s musical marriages into a textured progression of melodic guitar pop. A cacophony of layered percussion contributes to an assembly of noise, leading to an overtly accommodating soundscape. Followed up by another highlight, I Never Know, a more riff-centric track that screams an 80s chug and houses more refraining vocals, the mid-section of Heza remains solid, and allows it to maintain its appeal and avoid monotony.
Textured soundscapes become more and more vivid as Heza approaches a conclusion. Kemal slows things down once more, and incorporates a reggae-esque groove to help the saunter on its way, allowing you to stop for a Mai Tai before album closer Durga II bids goodnight. A frank, understated, blissful swansong confirms the listenability of Heza, and serves as a final reminder of the skill of Joyner and Widmer with regards to layering varying consistencies to an array of arrangements, and the astuteness of the duo’s melodic capabilities. Durga II rounds off a very well constructed, light-hearted frolicsome listen.
There is no doubt that Heza is a very convivial listen; as accommodating as the warm fronts it places you on, and as merry as any Christmas. This infectious catchiness, however, is also the album’s slight downfall, as although it does remain extremely listenable from start to finish, its charming, dreamboat ethos does keep its dimension a little bit stringent. Extremely appealing, and an outrageously easy listen, Heza is not an album for all moods, and could downright offend if listened to in a given state of mind. There is no doubting that Generationals’ motive is not ulterior. Their melodic strengths are showcased as admirably as anything in their pigeonhole, and their repertoire is strengthening with each LP. Blissfully addictive and dangerously catchy, Heza is most certainly one for the more bright and breezy of us this summer. Heza scores a bright and breezy 73%.
*First published for No Ripcord*