Release Date: Apr 2, 2013
Record label: Polyvinyl
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Pop
The best albums are those that figure out a way to incorporate weird ideas into an accessible structure. Too much of one and it’s unlistenable cacophony; too much of the other and it’s gaggingly sweet. On their third album, New Orleans duo Generationals balance the act perfectly. It’s markedly less garage-born than previous endeavors, too, sounding more akin to a dancier Echo & The Bunnymen or a version of The Magnetic Fields’ 69 Love Songs recorded at higher fidelity.
New Orleans’ Generationals return in a haze of skittish, world-inflected indie-pop with Heza, the band’s third full-length release. The guitar-wielding duo of Grant Widmer and Ted Joyner formed Generationals in 2008, after the other three members of their previous band The Eames Era (best known for their 2005 single Could Be Anything) decided not to pursue their burgeoning musical careers. The pair seem to have been set free by the shedding of superfluous band members, releasing since then a string of infectiously sprightly singles of the kind that companies such as Amazon and Starbucks like to use in their adverts and marketing.
Just in time for summer over here in the UK, New Orleans duo Generationals are back with a third installment, this time in the shape of a bright, breezy, shamelessly poppy civil partnership of guitar and electronica. Heza lacks the exuberance and flamboyance of 2009’s debut Con Law, and the unadulterated cheeriness of 2011 follow-up Actor-Caster, but the refining of the duet’s science has resulted in arguably their tightest album to date. Delightfully catchy guitar pop is Heza’s finished article, tight in its simplicity and with enough of a sophisticated edge to set it apart from many in its bracket.
Generationals' third studio album, 2013's Heza, picks up right where the group's 2009 album, Actor-Caster, left off. Recorded in Austin, Washington, D.C., as well as the group's hometown of New Orleans, Heza features more of the band's '80s-influenced style, with songs that walk the line between experimental indie rock and retro new wave pop. Which isn't to say that Generationals have made an anachronistic homage.
A couple years back, if you were lucky enough to have Generationals’ “Ten-Twenty-Ten” find its way into your path, you found a lifetime member for your “hangout mix” whose handclaps, up-tempo elasticity and ‘60s guitar tones played like a paradigm of likable music. The rest of Actor-Caster dug a similar niche, with lyrics straightforward without seeming mindless, lines like “it won’t get better til you leave me alone” painting a band that’s been through it all before, and, more importantly, heard it all before, too, with influences spanning the breadth of rock and roll. To call Heza, the third LP from the New Orleans-based duo, more opaque would be an understatement.
As Generationals, New Orleans' Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer have been fine-tuning their breezy brand of guitar pop for almost half a decade. Arriving with their immediately likable, horn-augmented 1960s swinger "When They Fight, They Fight" back in 2009, the duo came across as band with a simple, crowd-pleasing intention to make indie rock as hooky and appealing as possible. Their third full-length, Heza, takes their knack for writing bright, melodically-charged pop songs, but tones down the boisterousness of its predecessor, their 2011 high-water mark, Actor-Caster.
When a small-scale indie band treads just beneath the surface for nearly a decade in today’s oversaturated music market without fully breaking through the aqueous glass ceiling, they tend to cut their losses and return to traditional day jobs. Since they formed their first band at Louisiana State back in 2003, Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer (both on vocals and guitars) have released two albums and an EP on Park the Van (Dr. Dog, The Spinto Band), but instead of heading off to the cubicle life, they’ve forged ahead and now return with their best album to date on new label Polyvinyl under their Generationals moniker.