Over the last few years CJ Wildheart has broken away from the band that has given him his ‘surname’, as well as the band’s he’s been a member of outside of that, to create material that is genuinely his.
While Robot and before that Mable (named after his favourite chicken… and why not) began to explore a palette away from The Wildhearts it’s with his latest offering, Blood, that it really feels he’s found himself in his music.
Released and funded once again through Pledgemusic probably means most of his die-hard fans have already brought and downloaded the album, but there is plenty in it for more that just those dedicated few to like.
For a fair chunk of the record the sound is the fine mix of power pop rhythms and melodies married to the crunching, metallic, riffery we’ve come to expect.
In this CJ clearly references his namesake band but there’s very much a feeling to it that this is his version of that sound away from Ginger’s often more experimental leanings.
So, while we don’t get the abrupt tempo changes and extended sequences that The Wildhearts often headed into, we do get songs that you can bounce along to just as well – for those who are familiar with the band, I found some strong references in the sounds made by SugarSlam.
As well as this though there are songs where CJ goes into the heaviest territory he has explored yet.
Here we get intense riffs and rhythms, combined with CJ’s generally slightly cleaner style of heavy vocals – this isn’t shouting and screaming metal but still has a heavier and more abrasive edge than elsewhere.
At their heaviest moment it hints that CJ might have a side, like his former bandmate, that could lead to something like the lighter Mutation moments but in the context of this record he never fully commits to that (it would be somewhat out-of-place if he did).
While the sounds are a development on what we’ve come to expect from CJ it is in some of the subjects he deals with and the way he delivers the vocals that it feels things have really developed. Obviously all his songs have always come from his point of view in the past, but on Blood it’s the first time I got the feeling of CJ getting really personal in his lyrics.
It’s not for me to say whether this is based on CJ’s own experiences or not but it has a strong ring of truth in the delivery that both grounds it in his experience growing up and living in England and also places it within a wider current sociopolitical discourse growing from the ongoing immigration, Brexit, etc debate.
Once again with Blood CJ Wildheart has created a strong set of songs that further remove him from his history with The Wildhearts while continuing to build on the strong sense of pop-rock that were that bands call sign, particularly during his times with the band, making for his strongest solo outing to date that has plenty on offer for both long-term fans and people on the look out for something new.