My Star doesn’t pull it’s punches. The latest album from Chicago based quartet known as The Hecks lets you know from the initial beats of the opening song that you’re in for a wild time. Playing since 2012 with the duo Andy Mosiman & Zach Hebert and having later additions with Dave Vettraino and Jeff Graupner, this record features heavy use of drum machines, scratchy guitars and synths, and a vocal delivery that does not sing so much as pokes at you repeatedly to get your attention.
The sound is largely reminiscent of 80’s punk yet is still inherently unique, like a record placed in a time capsule from another dimension only to be unearthed 40 years later. My Star takes its own direction, resulting in an erratic yet captivating sound.
We open with “Zipper”, where the fast jabs of the guitars and vocals are embellished with sounds that feel like it came from an archaic computer, beeping and bopping through an array of error messages.
In “Chopper” we take to the skies. With its chugging guitars and rhythms, you’d soon start to wonder if it was actually recorded with a real helicopter.
Neon lights start illuminating your eyes in “The Flash”. The lyrics describes a time “When we all went astray” but we get a reversal with “Focus brought him back to life”. Vibrant synthesizers and keys light up the whole track. Don’t let the lens flare blind you!
We explore a sensitive side in “Heat Wave” as it tells a story of someone who finally stands up for themselves after times of neglect. “Cause I’m a little frightened, but at least I’m growing up / When I said I loved you.”
Another standout is “So 4 Real”. A funky, catchy tune that your Grandmother might have danced at her Senior prom back in her heyday. And it may have been written for her too as the lyrics sings “I only wanted / To be with you.”
With it’s 34 minute runtime, the group manages to move its way into different 80’s soundscapes. This is inherently clear in “Chinatown” with it’s playful use of percussion sounds and “The Fool” with its pulsating layers of ghostly synth sounds.
The title track comes in last and serves as a summary for the whole journey. Yet the band manages to throw in another curveball as the vocals go low, denoting a sensitive, Sinatra-esque characteristic as it sings “Love is not an easy thing I love to find”.
The album was such a treat to dive into. Production is top notch and there’s expert use of effects all throughout. A lot of bands have been contributing to the 80’s revival movement and modern listeners might be tired of this aesthetic, but take this one out of the equation. You’ll see none of the trite and overused tropes here. This is no throwback album. The Hecks know where they are going with regards to their artistic expression and they are taking it with them on their own terms.