The Xcerts are a band that can only be described as one of rocks best kept secrets, a band with an entire catalogue of surefire hits that somehow always managed to slip under the radar. This might be finally set to change however, with their fourth studio release 'Hold On To Your Heart', the Brighton based three piece have made a bold move into a more indie-pop territory, and pulled it off astoundingly.
Intro track 'The Dark' is a gloomy, moody, piano led piece that manages to feel both homely and unsettling at the same time, the warm tones of the piano and vocal harmonies in the background, contrasting with harrowing lyrics like; “wasted dreams are scattered out in the streets”. 'Daydream' then comes along to snap you out of that gloom and doom, with an upbeat pace and the first of many chorus' that will refuse to leave you alone ‘til you've had at least one little dance around your bedroom as you sing along to the words.
The debut single from the album comes in third, 'Feels Like Falling In Love' is an anthem, and the kind of song that you turn up for a festival set not knowing quite who the band you are watching is, and then they bust out this song and suddenly you know exactly who are on stage. The song defines this new era for the three piece, with its colossal chorus and striking guitar backed by dreamy synths, it's got radio hit single written all over it.
Just four songs in, and with 'First Kiss', a trend starts to become noticeable on this album: all these songs are catchy as all heck, and viciously relatable to anyone who has ever dipped their hand into the unpleasantries of the dating game. The lyrics; “cause every night you lie awake, listening to your heart break” hit hard, before the song bursts into life, and although feeling like a summer bop, frontman Murray Macleod's emotions seep out with every sentence. The record hides its true feelings under the pretense of smiling and dancing, just as people do in real life. Once this realisation sinks in there's no going back, this album turns into something much more if you let the words really soak in, this is more than a band shooting for the spotlight, there's real, genuine heartbreak entwined into every note.
Title track 'Hold On To Your Heart' is an album highlight, a tearful ode to the feeling missing someone deeply, with steady drumming paced just like a heartbeat. While ‘Drive Me Wild’ manages to throw a complete curveball into the album, as a sudden, yet welcome arrival of jazzy saxophone blares out (contributed to the album by Will Gardner of Black Peaks). This is a love song through and through, but pulled off oh so stylishly, and shows the band pushing their own boundaries at the same time as retaining their signature flair that makes them so beloved by their fans.
Closing tracks ‘Show Me Beautiful’ and ‘Cry’ bring the tone down allowing for a slower, more melodic tinge of sadness at the end of a beautifully crafted album. Even the artwork here makes a statement, a running trend for The Xcerts having one band member feature on the album art, except this time all three members are featured. If there was ever a time to lend an ear to The Xcerts, let it be now, with ‘Hold On To Your Heart’ they have constructed an absolute masterpiece, where not a single moment of any song feels stale or out of place, making this the most solid record they have put out to date.