Haunted Hearts’ “Initiation” Is Literally The Marriage Of Crocodiles And The Dum Dum Girls

In their separate realms, Kristin Welchez and her husband Brandon Welchez are responsible for two of the strongest albums of the past year.  Under the name Dee Dee Penny, Kristin is the leader of the Dum Dum Girls, whose album Too True helped get us through a long, cold winter.  Brandon Welchez’ band Crocodiles released Crimes Of Passion last summer, and it claimed the #5 spot on the 2014 Tulip Frenzy Top Ten List (c), and honestly, if we were to retrofit that list to the number of times since that we’ve played the record, it woulda/coulda/shoulda scored a higher slot.

Crimes Of Passion was a brilliant melding of garage rock and post-Bowie ’80s pop, and Welchez proved himself to be something like the ideal caddy, knowing precisely when to wield that 9 iron (horns), or the sand wedge (Farfisa.)  For another band, Crimes of Passion could be a Greatest Hits album, as the entire core of the record was like one radio hit after another.

Too True was also the best Dum Dum Girls album, one of those records that — like the Iggy Pop classic from which Kristin Welchez took her band’s name — probably sounds better on a cheap stereo than an audiophile’s rig.  If you take just one song, “Rimbaud Eyes,” you can immediately get a GPS reading on Welchez’ ambitions: she is somewhere in between Patti Smith (the Rimbaud reference) and Debby Harry (the early ’80s pop sound.)

So naturally it makes sense for two married artists producing such a high level of compatible work to put out an album together, and in Haunted Hearts’ Initiation we have about what you’d expect to emanate from pillow talk about fuzztones and pedals.  It’s a little bit more of a Dum Dum Girls album than a Crocodiles record, for those keeping score.  Which is to say that it lands in the category of mid-’80s MTV pop, catchy as a summer cold, a synth-driven studio record with some of the best features pulled out of each artist’s bag o’ tricks: the two singers’ pleasant voices, Brandon Welchez’s bass-driven pop chops, Kristen’s melodic sense.

We thought of this in the context of those early MTV bands, but there’s another pop reference point easily invoked here: a song like “Johnny Jupiter,” which is the strongest of the eight songs on this short, fun record, could easily have been featured on an iPod ad back in the day when Apple and their ad agency TBW\Chiat\Day were breaking synth-pop bands like Asteroids Galaxy Tour.

Haunted Hearts are not better than the sum of their separate bands’ parts, but Initiation is a fun record.  We anxiously await Crocodiles’ follow up to Crimes of Passion, but for now we’re happy to bask in the Welchez’ musical honeymoon.

 

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