Tom Gabel, the frontman of the Florida punk band Against Me!, confronts the unknowns of the future, politics and love in his first solo venture, ‘Heart Burns.’
‘Heart Burns’ is a nine-track album, heavy on the guitar, both acoustic and electric, but one that lacks much of the intensity fans of Against Me! are accustomed to.
While ‘Heart Burns’ is a Tom Gabel album and not a product of Against Me!, Gabel is the main writer behind the majority of the his band’s work, so some similarity is to be expected.
Tearing in to the cellophane of ‘Heart Burns’ with the idea that it will provide a new source of unheard Against Me! tracks by proxy would be a mistake and a waste of money.’ That being said, the album is not without its merits.
‘Conceptual Paths’, the second track on the EP, delivers a steady bass drum beat with the twang of Gabel’s acoustic guitar and his usual booming baritone voice. The song addresses a fear of the future; it’s a psychological bracing for whatever may come in life.
‘100 Years of War’, the seventh track, is an anthemic plea to fans, urging participation in the political process with a driving beat, much like that heard in Conceptual Paths minus the drums, and a rousing chorus of back-up singers.
The love songs of ‘Heart Burns’ blend the album’s political rhetoric in a way only an experienced writer from a punk band could manage.
Take the song ‘Anna is a Stool Pigeon’ for example. The song tells the story of a young activist with dreams of revolution who has the misfortune of falling in love with an undercover FBI informant, Anna.
Anna drives the revolutionary to fulfill his political dreams and, later in the song, to the local K-Mart to buy supplies to build a bomb where he and his friends are surrounded by ‘black suburbans and AR-15 rifles.’
‘Heart Burns’ is a relatively solid EP but, if you have the money, buy an Against Me! CD like ‘Reinventing Axl Rose’ or ‘Searching for a Former Clarity’.
If you have every Against Me! album, Heart Burns is a descent addition, but nothing to go crazy over.
Two stars out of five.