Heartthrob Chassis “Arrhythmia” (Milan Records, 2018)

Heartthrob Chassis is Margaret Dollrod’s band and if you’re aware of the Demolition Doll Rods – a band hopelessly in love with earlier Detroit heroes like MC5 and The Stooges – then you should be able to hazard a guess at what to expect from Heartthrob Chassis on their debut release ‘Arrhythmia‘. Thumping drums ? Check. Screaming guitars that sound like they’re being tortured? Check. Hard edged vocals full of sass and a threatening undertone? Oh yeah, check. This is the sound of rock and roll at its most sweaty and basic – full of life and urgency, typically delivering all it has to give in under three minutes of ear-ringing abandon. The anthemic ‘Now Now‘ needs less than a minute and a half to convey its message about living in the moment. It’s the proto-punk sound of glam, for those who are thinking New York Dolls.

On ‘Good Times Callin‘ ‘ Ben Van Camp takes a bluesy Bo Diddley riff and twists it good and hard, with Margaret Dollrod’s vocals screaming over the top. ‘Bicycle‘ starts out with a cyclic squeak like a wheel spinning on a grounded bike, before giving way to a thumping walking pace beat courtesy of Kate Gowman, with Dollrod slyly singing “I’ve got two big wheels on my bicycle – they go round / they take me downtown“. Margaret Dollrod has said that “songs just come, I don’t feel like I even write them” and ‘Bicycle‘ definitely has an improvised feel to it as Dollrod goes downtown, picks up a girl in tight pants who just might want to go and fool around. The unusually long ‘Sister‘ has a hard motorik beat and a persistent guitar drone as Dollrod fantasises in a flattened deadpan vocal, that conveys a disturbingly inevitable lustfulness, about wanting to “invite your sister to the party tonight” where “she’s going to laugh at everything I say / music, music / have your way“.

Arrhythmia‘ is an irregular vibrating rock and roll shake-up, a reminder that there’s more to this music than pretty lyrics and pleasant melodies. Rock can be dirty and, yeah, a bit frightening – but wasn’t that what made it attractive in the first place? Heartthrob Chassis offer the opportunity for half an hour of sweating in a mosh pit, but achieved in the comfort of your own home. And with headphones – ‘cos there’s a good chance no-one else will appreciate it like we do.

Wham-bam-thank you Margaret Dollrod.
7/10

Author: Jonathan Aird

Sure, I could climb high in a tree, or go to Skye on my holiday. I could be happy. All I really want is the excitement of first hearing The Byrds, the amazement of decades of Dylan's music, or the thrill of seeing a band like The Long Ryders live. That's not much to ask, is it?

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