The Exploding Hearts: Guitar Romantic (Expanded & Remastered) [Classic Album Revisit]

The Exploding Hearts
Guitar Romantic (Expanded & Remastered)
Third Man Records

Released: April 1, 2003/Reissue: May 26, 2023
Producer: The Exploding Hearts, Pat Kearns
Length: 29:00/Reissue: 38:00

In a world where punk and power pop collide, The Exploding Hearts’ debut album Guitar Romantic emerged as a timeless gem that pays homage to the past while infusing a youthful and infectious energy that’s hard to resist. Tragically, the band’s potential was cut short due to a fatal accident shortly after the album’s release, making this record not just a musical achievement but also a poignant tribute to what could have been.

Released in 2003, Guitar Romantic oozed the 1970s and 1980s punk and power pop scenes, with influences ranging from the Ramones and the Buzzcocks to The Undertones. In fact, the album does not shy away from going over the top with melodies or hooks even though The Exploding Hearts wore the punk tag. The album kicks off with the powerful “Modern Kicks,” setting the tone for a rollercoaster of catchy tracks, buzzsaw guitars, and infectious hooks. The final album embraced a lo-fi vibe, giving the album an authentic vintage feel that’s simultaneously raw and polished. What is fantastic about this remastered version is that all of those interacting pieces now pop a little louder and ring out a little longer!

At other time on the record, “I’m A Pretender” and “Throwaway Style” showcase The Exploding Hearts’ ease at delivering memorable choruses that you can’t help but hum along to. The songwriting is creatively simple, as the band circles through heartbreak, rebellion, and the youthful spirit. Guitar Romantic effortlessly captured a raw moment in time where everything lined up and grabbed rock ‘n’ roll in its purest form.

The musicianship on Guitar Romantic is tight and energetic, with Terry Six and Matt Fitzgerald’s dueling guitars serving as both the driving force and the melodic foundation. The rhythm section, consisting of bassist David Boyer and drummer Jeremy Gage, provides a solid backbone, allowing the melodies to soar while maintaining a relentless groove.

The album’s only drawback lies in its 29-minute runtime, as it leaves you craving more of The Exploding Hearts’ infectious sound. This expanded edition helps remedy that issue with the addition of the previously forgotten organ-heavy “King Louie Mix” of the fan-favorite “I’m A Pretender.” Additionally, an entirely unheard take of “So Bored,” previously not even known to have been recorded during the Guitar Romantic sessions, has been included. The package also features a remastered version of “Busy Signals,” a song originally released in a limited 7-inch quantity in January 2003.

While The Exploding Hearts’ story ended tragically, their legacy lives on through this album—a reminder of the power of music to inspire and evoke emotion. Whether you’re a fan of punk, power pop, or simply crave music that’s bursting with energy, Guitar Romantic is an essential listen and an album that absolutely should be in your collection!

There were no officially released singles, but the first two tracks on the record “Modern Kicks” and “I’m A Pretender” would be easy choices.

The Strokes like “Throwaway Style” is on the last half of the record but has a standout groove while “Sleeping Aides And Razor Blades” shows a much more classic pop rock to the band like an Elvis Costello or Nick Lowe.

The Only Ones / Buzzcocks / The Marked Men

In the twenty years since its release – and the subsequent tragic deaths of three of the four band members in a van accident later that same year – Guitar Romantic has outgrown its onetime “cult” status to become an immortal touchstone of the genre. This expanded & remastered reissue brings a welcome dose of new life to an album all too often associated with death, and with it, plenty of old favorites and unheard gems for fans to rejoice in. This reissue should hopefully put this album on the radar of a younger generation that experiences this record in all its glory for the first time!

As the sole remaining member of the band, Terry Six played a handful of select tribute shows recently across the US to honor the Guitar Romantic material. Six continues to carry the torch for The Exploding Hearts and the countless fans who consider this album a quintessential touchstone.

Bandcamp | Third Man Records

Christopher Anthony
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