Artist: Tom Gable
Album: Heart Burns
Comments: "I don't care what they hear / I know the way it sounds to me."
There is always friction when an artist rises from obscurity to prominence. There's nothing fans hate more than having to share their hot little secret with the rest of the world, and few artists understand this more than Tom Gable. Since his emergence on the punk scene in Against Me!, each of his band's albums has been released to the gnashing of fan-boy teeth and the "sellout" lamentations of the one-time faithful. Gable, for his part, has largely ignored the cries of his fans and continued to push his music forward.
On Heart Burns, however, it's almost like Gable wants people to freak out. The EPs first two cuts "Random Hearts" and "Conceptual Paths" as about as far away from Against Me! as anything the man has ever done. Both tracks are over-produced pop songs, heavy on keyboard drums and goofy 80s synth. I don't want to say the songs suck, but they are definitely the two weakest tracks on the album.
Not surprisingly, the strongest moments on the EP are when Gable sticks to his folk-punk bread and butter. "Harsh Realms" and "Anna is a Stool Pigeon" are classic Gable, the kind of songs that are right in his wheelhouse and will sound most appealing to Against Me! fans. "Anna" is especially good, served well by the crisp production and the hilariously tragic story of an activist that falls in love with an FBI informant.
The rest of the EP progresses without much fanfare. "Cowards Sing at Night" sounds kind of like a George Michael song, and "100 Years of War" is political song that gets a little bit too preachy, a problem that Gable has had a lot in the past.
Heart Burns is not bad. It's the kind of EP that hardcore fans will buy, but won't appeal to the casual listener. Parts of it seem a little self indulgent in their blatant effort to distance themselves from Against Me!'s cannon, and parts of it are as catchy and visceral as anything Gable has done. In time, this EP will be remember as little more than something fun for Gable to do between Against Me! albums, but considering how much flack the man has taken, it's hard to hold blowing off a little steam against him.
Rating: 5.5 out of 10
Key Tracks: Random Hearts, Anna is a Stool Pigeon, Harsh Realms
Buy, Steal, Skip: Steal