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Flatcat – Heartless Machine Album Review

Heartless Machine is Flatcat’s first album in eight years. Flatcat are from Bruges, Belgium and their newest album, Heartless Machine, has recently been released on Eye Spy Records.

This is the band’s third and most labour-intensive studio release to date. In the last two years Dieter “Minx” Meyns (vocals/guitar) learned all about recording music with only one goal: to record most of the new Flatcat album himself. This explains the long wait…

Over the last two years, the band acquired professional recording gear to take care of vocals, guitars and bass themselves to leave only the recording of drums up to Dé Studio in Belgium (that also recorded Flatcat’s debut album back in 2002). In search for the ultimate punk rock sounding album, Minx made an appointment and had an intensive talk with Bill Stevenson (Descendents/Black Flag) after the Descendents show at Groezrock 2011.

The band decided to work with Bill and Jason Livermore who mixed and mastered the album at The Blasting Room in Fort Collins, Colorado. The result is Heartless Machine.

First stand out track is Loose Tongues which has influences of Sum41, classic Green Day and Jimmy Eat World in it. It’s punk rock done in the American style. It’s the sort of music you used to love in your teens and a slight guilty pleasure.

Title track Heartless Machine has a darker, grungier sound to it. It’s got a good sing along chorus that will be perfect for live shows, “Here we go again/It all looks so well-rehearsed/Dragging me back in/Thought I was blessed but I am cursed/You must be/You must be the most vicious girl I’ve ever seen/You heartless machine.”

The Maladjusted is a punchy, punk rock, teenage rebellion track. It’s the distorted guitar that kicks this song off. On this song, Flatcat sound very similar to Simple Plan’s original pop/punk rock sound they introduced to the music industry back in 1999. Flatcat seem to have a knack for writing great sing along choruses, “Spat out by your loved ones/Condemned by those we trusted/If growing up means giving in/Call us the maladjusted.”

Take Shelter is another song that has an incredibly catchy chorus which is instantly recognisable even if you’ve only heard this song once. Take Shelter is the sort of song you’ll want to hear again. It has a surprisingly summery upbeat guitar riff which kicks it off alongside the fast tempo drums. There are elements of Blink 182 that can be heard in this song. Take Shelter explores the idea of isolation and loneliness through cleverly written metaphorical lyrics: “I wonder if you hear it too the rolling thunder/Am I alone feeling the rain ‘cause I’m going under/Don’t want to get caught in the storm/I need to take shelter.”

Leech will get your feet tapping – it just suits a summer afternoon driving around in your car, “You’re a leech sucking my blood/Trying to drain me but I’m holding strong/You’re a leech sucking my blood/And you’ve been doing it too long/Doing it too long.”

Not What I Signed Up For features an acoustic start to the track which is refreshing after all the punk rock focus in the other songs. The vocals seem softer and are very Billy Joe Armstrong inspired. The music seems chirpier and more stripped back than the previous tracks. It has a happier sound despite the lyrics, “This is not what I signed up for/This is not what I had in mind…”.

The Great Escape is the best track on Heartless Machine. There are folk influences heard in the guitar riff which is a first for this record. It sounds like a completely different band as Flatcat introduce Mumford and Sons influences into parts of the track. The Great Escape has that upbeat folk tempo that blends perfectly with the “Oh oh oh oh/I I I I/ Won’t let you down” chorus. It’s the penultimate track on the record and is a brilliant one at that.

Flatcat’s Heartless Machine is out now via Eye Spy Records.

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