The Xcerts – ‘Hold On To Your Heart’

By Chris Hilson

Ever since their formative days in Aberdeen and Brighton, The Xcerts have been known for their ability to write upbeat anthemic rock songs with apparent ease. Their back catalogue has got more than its fair share of instantly appealing songs, and a live set from them is pretty much hit after hit after hit.

It comes as a surprise then that ‘Hold On To Your Heart’ opens not with a surge of guitars but with gentle piano accompanying Murray Macleod on stripped-back ballad ‘The Dark’. It’s a brave way to kick things off and an immediate example of the songwriting maturity that The Xcerts demonstrate throughout the album. For those craving a more familiar and equally enjoyable experience, tracks like ‘Daydream’ provide the energetic and melodic riffs that the band are known for.

From the red cover art to the album title, and the multitude of references to love, it feels like ‘Hold On To Your Heart’ is drenched in emotion; and The Xcerts certainly deliver a level of emotional depth that will cause your bottom lip to wobble and your eyes to well up. The two songs that are mostly likely to test your emotional resolve are those that bring the album to a close. The double-header of ‘Show Me Beautiful’ and ‘Cry’ are both beautifully written and performed, and are the perfect outlet for any pent-up emotion that you may be feeling. The lyrics are painfully honest and the purposeful pacing of each song only adds to the impact.

In the build-up to the emotional close The Xcerts deliver pure musical escapism in the form of songs such as the sugary ‘First Kiss Feeling’, and the arena-filling ‘Feels Like Falling In Love’; both of which are sure to find their way into live sets sooner rather than later. At the same as providing a whirlwind of energetic chords and distinctive vocals, The Xcerts find a couple of moments to experiment with their winning formula.

There aren’t many bands who decide to break out a saxophone during the intro of an otherwise solid stadium-rock tune, and even fewer who bringing the sax back throughout the rest of the song, but The Xcerts are one of them. And it just about works, as they channel their inner-Springsteen on ‘Drive Me Wild’. What initially sounds out of place soon works its way into the fabric of the song, and it leads into the more expected guitar solo very well.

‘Hold On To Your Heart’ can at times feel almost relentlessly upbeat, but The Xcerts finely balance lighter and more emotional moments in much the same way as Jimmy Eat World do. It has felt like The Xcerts have been poised to make a breakthrough for a while now and ‘Hold On To Your Heart’ is the album that will take their popularity to a whole new level.

 

CHRIS HILSON

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