Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring - These Are Our Songs We Made Them For You

Bill Cummings 30/01/2007

Rating: 4/5

Formerly known as The Bleeding Hearts, Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring (possibly named after the Beach Boys track) are a six piece from London led by Markus, an evil, bald headed lapsed catholic. The singer and all round romantic poet is backed by a merry band of multi instrumentalist men and women. With their first album, These Are Our Songs We Made Them For You, THWFOS have created a comforting bubble of tinkling sound that gradually envelopes your ears. Reminiscent of the wistful, sighing psychedelia of Spiritualized's Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, it concocts the heartbroken melodic strumming of Sparklehorse and the melancholy of The Smiths to create a heady mix of magical bittersweet pop.

“New Religion”, opening with a swathe of xylophones and birdsong, is a piano and vocal confessional using religion as a metaphor for love - “You could start me a new religion/You could help me to find my way home in the dark.” “Giving Up” is a sedate Spiritualized-esque hymn, full of sunny, building organ above which Markus' vocals, aching and soaring, are riddled with self doubt - “There are some things I'm not capable of/Like growing hair on my head and falling in love.” Its rhythm seeps under your skin and grows delightfully on repeated listens - however, unfortunately, those required repeated listens could be for some, its downfall as a song.

Elsewhere, the pop stakes are raised with the brilliance of “As Long As The Sun Shines”, the kind of catchy indie pop song that harks back to the early nineties, with a twisting tumbling rhythm decorated by a gorgeous melody. “Stars”, which first appeared on last year's Dog Box compilation, still sounds brilliant: shivering vocals, shimmering Rickenbacker guitars, and a melody that aches, swoons and swoops effortlessly into falsetto. This song about dreamers and those in the gutter staring at the stars is simply the best thing here.

The second half of the album is mostly more downbeat: the haunting “Kristin” slides into view with floating vocals almost reminiscent of the vocal work of Thom Yorke on prozac; the sliding guitar work on “Happy” is immediately reminiscent of The Smiths' “Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now”, yet in typical THWFOS style the rhythm goes upwards into something more traditionally uplifting and well pop, yet Markus' vocals constantly add weight to the heart of these songs.

“A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away” attempts to add a bit of pace into proceedings, dabbing keys, flanged guitars, and a racing philosophical vocal with twisting instrumentation.
Pleasing album closer “Fall Into These Arms” is a gorgeous piece of sighing balladry backed by some beautiful instrumentation (there's even a flute solo!!) that emphasizes one of the themes running through the heart of this record: hope through tragedy, love through pain - “When you need something to hold onto/When you need something to pull you through/Fall into these arms together/Keep us safe from harm forever.”

Had THWFOS existed in the nineties, you can imagine them being the toast of the NME. Times have changed, but don't let that put you off this album. It's a rare treat, that's been given a second life by Northern Star records - dust it down and treasure its beauty. If the Arcade Fire and Mercury Rev can make it in the naughties then surely there's a place for THWFOS's magical psychedelic indie pop, in our hearts?

Download the entire album here.