After seeing the videos I figured this EP would in fact be a collection of those mostly acoustical songs and nothing more. When “Random Hearts” started with electronic beats leading to Tom Gabel’s trademark raspy singing I realized this was something entirely different. My initial taste of Tom Gabel’s new solo material sounded like Against Me! meets The Faint without all the dancing.
The following “Conceptual Paths” added elements of folk with very mild reverb on his voice at times. I loved this song and to think I just stared playing the CD. “Cowards Sing At Night” humored me; it was clearly about John McCain as the song ended “your war is over Johnny”. The simple indie rock riffs kept the song flowing
“Amputations” seriously reminded me of classic garage rock with its heavy on guitar distortion. At one moment I am reminded of “Ballroom Blitz” with the way Tom Gabel sings “There's no heat between lovers and a summer night.” Perhaps if you hear the song you will know what I am talking about. Aside from the sweet similarity, the song is incredible and by the end you are surrounded by the trademark Against Me! group signing. The song was initially played by Against Me! acoustically last March at in-store events causing a lot of fans to question if the song happened to be a New Wave b-side.
Just when I thought I could not be more impressed by this EP “Anna Is A Stool Pigeon” came on. The lyrics, a hidden secret love story revolving around an activist guy who fell in love with an undercover FBI agent unknowingly, were an adventure alone. Chuck Ragan from Hot Water Music added back up vocals and harmonica kept my interest. Butch Vig from Garbage, who also is the executive producer of the EP, even added his drumming skills to pull together one hell of a track.
This EP is continuing evidence that Tom Gabel is to be heard by many regardless if he does it on his own or with Against Me!. I have high expectations for his musical career and I see him not slowing down anytime soon. You don’t have to like Against Me! to enjoy the Heart Burns EP. Sure it has its sing along moments and for the most part sounds like Against Me!. I am sure all the die hard will rave about it, or bitch about it for the sake of it not being Against Me!, but it is a genuine effort and to be enjoyed by all.