All I know of Heart is their ’70s hits, which used to get played on classic rock radio a lot. (I don’t know if they still are.) I’ve heard most (all?) of these hits but I had no idea that they were Heart, in part because they sound so different, and in part because I was a little kid and had no idea who Heart was. Someone told me the Wilsons like this album least of their career, and it’s easy to see why.
The band wrote half (or less) of the material and it’s noticeably the rockiest. Whether or not the “AOR” makeover story is actually true, the writing credits certainly bear that out. This is the kind of thing that is usually pretty demeaning for a self-contained rock band, but it was quite trendy in the ’80s. So maybe they thought it was a good idea at the time but now don’t like it, or maybe they were just desperate and they now regret it. Either way, the power ballads are a noticeable change in style from the ’70s songs I was familiar with. And they haven’t dated well. Yes, they’re really catchy but that isn’t the point, right? This is suppose to be “hard rock” music.
The sound is what you would think it is from the cover or from familiarity with any of these hits: big, poppy “rock” music with barely distorted guitar (usually low in the mix unless it’s a lead or solo) plus lots of synthesizers. The sound is as ridiculous as the hair, which should come as no surprise, I guess. But these musicians are good musicians, right? It’s a shame to hear a rock brand (mostly) stuck in what feels like an attempt to fit them into a 1985 radio format.
So much of what might be appealing in the rockier side of this music is neutered by the sound of the record. Though there isn’t much of that anyway, because the emphasis is clearly on the hooks intended for radio. This record is one that could have only been recorded in 1985 and, 35 years later, it’s really, really hard to enjoy.
5/10 feels charitable but let’s go with it