The Dirty Hearts are either good at being bad or bad at being good, but good luck divining a definitive answer from their naughty New Wave. The local quartet's debut strikes such an alluring balance between contentment and catastrophe it's almost impossible not to get swept along, and it's breakneck pace renders petty details like who did what to whom almost irrelevant. If you can catch them, there's some salient observations on modern relationships here, accentuated by taunting boy-girl vocals and disguised by sugary hooks that conceal their sharp edges until long after Romeo is bleeding. Try robotic love poem 'The Body Song,' Spoon-like 'Style,' and fluid 'Take Her All Around' for starters, bearing in mind the Pixies' smirking specter is never very far away. If anything, this baker's dozen guitar-keyboard concoctions is a shade monochromatic, but so were the Thin Man movies, and they've held up just fine. - The Austin Chronicle Not to judge an album by it's cover, but it's worth mentioning that the picture of Frankie Medina and Calida on the inside of the Dirty Hearts' self-titled debut release is damn sexy, and smacks of more than just a little cheap motel grit. But then that seems to be the line that group is working throughout the album. From the opening riffs on the first track 'New One,' there's a definite raw surge of energy in the sound that is coupled with a palpable sensuousness. Calida's sultriness mixes in with Medina's blitzkrieg of punched-out verses to keep the song torn with indecision. There's a strutting beat that kicks lyrics like 'You look so beautiful / Walkin' down Congress suckin' on a red bull / I see them stop and stare / Everybody wants some, I've already vacationed there' into high gear, and the song ends with the Calida's intentionally perky and cloying call out of 'Hey Frankie!' and the singer's dismissive and indifferent response 'Oh no, not you again / It's just so boring. / I think I'll just put on / My old shirt.' 'New One,' especially with it's abrupt ending, works perfectly in playing off of the dynamic between the core duo of the group. The songs are at their best when they're exploiting that play between Calida's and Medina's vocals, as in 'The Body Song' or 'Take Her All Around.' But just as 'New One' leaves us with the feeling that Frankie is bound to settle once again with the admittedly sexy girl that he nonetheless detests, the album also seems unwilling to commit to either it's second-wave punk tendencies or it's more mainstream alternative fallout. Not that the result isn't sometimes spot-on perfect (and you can tell the songs must be explosive when performed live), but you get the sense through much of the album's second half that the Dirty Hearts aren't quite willing to make the push in either direction. Like the picture on inside cover, it's seedy and sordid enough to hint at that classic degenerate punk edge, but also doesn't really seem to want to go there. Despite this somewhat ambivalent pull, most of the tracks still work extremely well between those two veins. In fact, if taken individually, the songs are often exceptional - in no small part due to the group's ability to create some of the most readily addictive choruses around. 'Take Her All Around,' for example, is the farthest removed from the rest of the album with it's more pop-styled sound, but it is also one of the best cuts. And then the group is just as likely throw in garage blasts like 'Sinner's Safari,' howls reminiscent of the Offspring like on 'Play Dead,' or synthesized flourishes like 'The Body Song.' Figuring out exactly where the Dirty Hearts are trying to go is perplexing, and maybe, as with most debut albums, even they aren't exactly sure yet. But it seems that they could easily excel down any path they choose. Of course, they may just as easily determine to keep defying those expectations around every corner, but as a definite band worth keeping an eye on, they could nail something pretty damn spectacular with either a little more dirt or a little more heart. - The Austinist.
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