On the back of the promo copy of Young Heart Attack’s CD, Mouthful of Love, guitarist Frenchie (former Sixteen Deluxe member Chris Smith) says, “We want to make records that teenagers would lose their virginity to — we want to make records that teenagers would get arrested the first time to.”
If that’s the case, perhaps you could listen to Young Heart Attack’s first full-length as the soundtrack to a late-70s/early-80s dirty rock and roll Bonnie and Clyde-style romance. Picture a scuzzy looking Clyde “The Glide” Barrow, a juvenile delinquent with a manly mullet, a sneer that could scare a sidewinder and a tattoo of a roaring panther on his right shoulder. Sporting ripped jeans and a dust-covered leather jacket, Clyde picks up his honey, Bonnie “Hot Pants” Parker, in a souped-up El Camino with a bed full of ammo and alcohol. The duo jet across the highways and by-ways of America, robbin’ and lovin’ as they go, triumphantly blasting Mouthful of Love while evading the law.
Having just completed their first European tour, the Austin, TX outfit plays up the excesses of chicken wire bar rock to their advantage. Thus Mouthful of Love is so over the top, so unabashedly in love with its big-hair and tight trousers roots that it’s enjoyable. On the album’s title track, you can smell the Lone Star and feel the soft grit of sawdust through your toughest pair of boots. A pounding, punch-in-the-face trio of chords cues the rest of the band in a kick-you-in-the-nuts fashion. Chris Hodge and Jennifer Stephens trade vocals about rockin’ and knockin’ some boots over rumbling drums and wailing guitar. During the chorus, Stephens sings, “At night we’re gonna get it on / Rockin’ and a’ rollin’ at dawn / Everybody’s singin’ at dawn,” the last words drawn out as Hodge throatily interjects “Yeah, we’re getting it together right!” The best of Hodge’s outbursts comes at the end: “You betta rock, mutha fucka, yeah!”
The bright burning, testosteroned-out “Starlite” has the surprisingly catchy refrain “Gotta prove I’m a man, can you understand?” Hodge channels Robert Plant in the riff-heavy “El Camino” which coupled “Tommy Shots” would be the perfect crime spree songs for out fictional dirty rock Bonnie and Clyde. As “Tommy Shots” slows from fist-thrusting madness to near silence, Hodge and Stephens give a soulfully staid “a-woo-hoo-hooo” and a whispered “cha cha cha cha” before breaking into Smith’s guitar freak out. Opening with some candid band conversation, “(Take Me Back) Mary Jane” would be the duo’s love song, a sultry blend of The Rolling Stones and T-Rex that The Glide and Hot Pants could bang a gong to after another successful heist and getaway.
Young Heart Attack keeps the fist-pumping, screaming assault pretty consistent throughout the rest of the album, Hodge’s outbursts supported by Stephens’ rock and roll coos, the occasional “hey hey hey” or “woo-hoo-hoo” added for good measure. The band offers a bombast, slightly altered cover of MC5’s “Over and Over,” Hodge blaring like a tall-boy swilling Rob Tyner as he sings about a sexy war, this particular one more contemporary than Vietnam, however.
As The Glide and Hot Pants ride off into the sunset, perhaps their last loving cruise before the law fills them full of lead, what better way to end their love on a high note like the actress tale “Misty Rowe.” Hand in hand, the other no doubt clutching a tall can of warm beer, the duo exchange an Bud-scented kiss before sitting back and nodding their heads to mean guitars and a crimson sunset. How ideal, how lovely; it makes you want to punch your fists in the air until dawn.
The Mooney Suzuki – Electric Sweat
The Donnas – Spend the Night
The Cult – Electric