Album Review: The Jaded Hearts Club – You’ve Always Been Here

Youve Always Been Here

Well, this is going to be divisive.

Supergroups have long been the scourge of the idealistic, decried as acts of self-indulgence, often regarded as nothing more than a blemish on an otherwise peerless track record. There’s a large amount of truth in that, especially when what’s on offer is just a collection of cover versions. A distraction from the day job, they are the musical equivalent of that long liquid lunch on a Friday afternoon.

The Jaded Hearts Club project comes with some pedigree: guitarist Jamie Davis needed a wedding band and roped in some friends to help him out. As opposed to some mates from school and that old guy down the pub who used to play drums in the 1970s, said friends were Matt Bellamy, Graham Coxon, The Zutons’ Sean Payne, Jet frontman Nic Cester and the man with the best black book in music, Miles Kane.

So much fun was had that they became a band, having done a handful of live shows earlier in the year, leading to this album of classic Motown-era hits given an indie-rock spruce.

Regardless of your opinion on the project, you cannot knock the song choices: bookended by two Matt Bellamy-sung efforts (a scratchy watered-down version of We’ll Meet Again and a version of Fever, supported only by hushed vocals, finger clicks and a double bass), what falls in between are some of the greatest songs of all time. The Four Tops’ Reach Out I’ll Be There is first up, Nic Cester’s rambunctious tones combining with a glam swagger given a sense of scale by huge backing vocals from Bellamy and Kane.

Aside from the intro and outro, vocals are provided entirely by Cester and Kane. The former tackles everything head on, not shying from the emotion that Marvin Gaye’s This Love Starved Heart Of Mine (It’s Killing Me) requires, while elsewhere he broods accordingly to the moody Long And Lonesome Road, with additional menace supplied by his bandmates. He wraps his whole range around the delicious melody within the Isley Brothers’ Why When The Love Is Gone, and belts out I Put A Spell On You in stark contrast to Nina Simone’s more measured delivery.

Miles Kane gives it his best shot too, the style slightly more suited to the boisterous, 70’s, punchy sound he’s been pursuing for the last few years. His distorted vocal on the relentless Have Love Will Travel by The Sonics is welcome, but he overcooks the larynx-shredding effort on the galloping Money (That’s What I Want), while Bellamy ably supports him on Love’s Gone Bad, wrenching every last note out of his guitar as only he can.

Another part of the fun of supergroups is picking out who does what. While Cester and Kane surely contribute on guitars, neither are of the standard of Bellamy or Graham Coxon. It’s quite easy to spot Bellamy’s trademark axe histrionics on Reach Out I’ll Be There (in the drop before the chorus) or I Put A Spell On You. Coxon is harder to place, by virtue of having explored broader soundscapes throughout his career, but when you have the best guitarist of his generation contributing, you’d better use him.

Crammed with whoops, screams and some incandescent drumming (surely a reflection of the fun that was being had in the studio), You’ve Always Been Here isn’t designed to save lives. Maybe some people have no room for more fun in their lives. Many others do.

7/10

Richard Bowes

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