Fans were made to wait for the four-piece’s new release following the hospitalisation of frontman Blaine Harrison in September 2019. The illness of the lead vocalist put the brakes on the band’s plans, meaning that the album would eventually greet the world in the midst of a global pandemic.
It is perhaps apt that ‘A Billion Heartbeats’ arrived when the way in which we act as a society is being questioned more frequently than ever before. It is their most political and socially conscious effort to date, bursting with candid and intelligent lyrics.
Opening track ‘Screwdriver’ is a powerful and mettlesome assault on right-wing nationalists, dismissing their beliefs as “hate masquerading as pride” and calling into question their attempts to use religion to support their intolerance. ‘Petty Drone’ blends soaring, melodic vocals with blasts of gritty guitar, whilst title track ‘A Billion Heartbeats’ is a rallying cry for empathy and communication wrapped in indie-rock excellence.
Frontman Harrison lives with a disability, and his love for the NHS pours out on the slow-building and incredibly impactful ‘Hospital Radio’. Drenched in the emotion drawn upon from his own experiences, it’s an unapologetic declaration of appreciation that is more relevant in the current climate than it has ever been before.
‘Campfire Song’ addresses almost every aspect of societal discontent in an upbeat and catchy number, continuing the social commentary that runs throughout the album.
The lack of filler is what makes it such an impressive LP, as the final two tracks provide a fitting end to a stellar record. The beautifully meandering ‘Watching Yourself Slowly Disappear’ is an uplifting highlight and the relaxing ‘Wrong Side Of The Tracks’ pays tribute to climate activist Greta Thunberg with piano-aided harmonies and defiant anti-cynic lyrics.