Our Take: INHEAVEN’s Timely Album is Just What a Debut Should Be

INHEAVEN © 2017
We might not be the first to think it, but we’ll say it: it’s been about damn time for INHEAVEN’s debut album.

After listening to the London foursome’s eponymous solo album (released 9/8/17 via PIAS Recordings), though, it’s clear on why they waited. Something this good needed those two years (since the release of first single “Regeneration”) to come into its own. The result of INHEAVEN letting their songs age (kind of like fine wine) is an angst-laden rock album that’s right on time.

It’s an album that does exactly what a first album should: balance the band’s best early singles with new songs. INHEAVEN’s debut seems to have outdone the formula, as the album contains enough older and newer material to satisfy even the most I-liked-“Tangerine“-best-because-most-new-fan-haven’t-heard-it fan. The album’s social relevance, charged emotions, and hot political critique all shine through, making it feel like just the rock album 2017 has been waiting for.

Listen: “INHEAVEN” – INHEAVEN

INHEAVEN open the album with “Baby’s Alright,” an uncannily-relevant single that’s thrown into sharp relief in the light of current political tensions between the United States and North Korea. Referencing Vietnam and Cold War-era attitudes in both its lyrics and its video, the “messed-up place where hate breeds hate” begins to seem all-too-familiar since the single was originally released in 2016.

Lonely kids of the USA
Fight a war in a foreign state
No they ain’t got your technology
So we’ll burn ’em down with no apology

Treats” has been, ever since its release last year, the politicized breakup rant to shame all others. Right down to the Carrie-inspired music video, the song’s frantic pace makes bassist/vocalist Chloe Little’s scream of “I need someone to treat me right,” a manifesto for all women rather than a lament about an ex.

Watch: “Treats” – INHEAVEN

Stupid Things” takes things to a gentler tone before launching straight into banger “Vultures.” Following the two, “All There Is” strikes a balance. While it’s a simple love song, there’s big meaning in each line, turning each line into one of cinematic proportions. Again, there’s a manifesto-like quality to the delivery of INHEAVEN’s lyrics here: when James Taylor sings that he’s “always forever hers,” there’s a sense of utmost importance (as also expounded by the song’s video, which references the best of the nostalgic 80’s teen flicks).

From there, INHEAVEN launches into “World On Fire,” the timely, anti-establishment banger that acts as the album’s middle finger that’s pointed directly at the person some people call the American president. Espousing hate, as the band notes in “Baby’s Alright,” will only breed hatred, and the band’s scorched-earth, spitting critique goes further:

Stupid is as stupid does
A man who lies you cannot trust
His women bound, they must obey
Every grotesque word he says
Pray, pray, pray, pray
Praying for the end of the world
Pray, pray, pray, pray
Praying for the end of the world

The anger-fueled release of frustration is the aural equivalent of a live wire, with the band pouring everything they have into it–and inviting us to join in by screaming our fears and frustrations along with them.

Watch: “World On Fire” – INHEAVEN

“World On Fire”‘s electric charge is tempered by “Do You Dream,” a cushion of a love song, that begs the gentle question, “do you dream of me that way?” In “Do You Dream” and following song “Real Love“, INHEAVEN demonstrates their range and ability to channel their emotions, from boiling range to the first inklings of attraction, into their music.

Early single “Regeneration” plays on the themes of youth and generational divide so brilliantly kicked off by the Who with “My Generation.” Fifty years later, INHEAVEN asks our generation what we’ve wasted our time doing, and if we even stand for anything at all anymore.

I don’t wanna bring you down
I just wanna fuck around
I’m bored of my generation
Is this my generation?

A re-recorded “Bitter Town” follows, appropriately enough. The new recording allows guitarist/vocalist James Taylor’s voice to echo more emphatically, and the passion in “All I really know is I’ve got you,” shines through, making the song’s hometown blues and frustration even more relatable.

Watch: “Bitter Town” – INHEAVEN

Velvet” is just as hazy as early single “Tangerine.” From its title to its fuzz-laden riffs, it evokes the best of 90’s alt-rock, and feels just as paradoxically harsh and gentle at points.

This review would be remiss if it didn’t address the music videos that accompany many of the songs on the album. Always cinematically-minded, INHEAVEN have given just as much thought and attention to detail in their videos as they have to each of their songs. Whether it’s the love story between two of their main characters that surpasses eras and childhood bullies, the members of the band screaming out lyrics in front of a TV flashing between images of Ronald Reagan, masked pig-men, and Mickey Mouse, or a fire-and-brimstone revision of Carrie, the band manages to capture most of their songs’ varying moods in their accompanying videos: no small feat for any group, much less one releasing their first album.

INHEAVEN has shown exactly what a debut album should be. It’s balanced, thoughtful, raging, soft, frustrated, and, most importantly, honest. Kudos to the band for crafting an album that showcases just what they’re capable of, and for keeping their fans hooked in the process.

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Lindsay is the Assistant Music Director at Atwood Magazine. A graduate of Westmont College, she works as a social media manager in the Los Angeles area and is a sometimes-regular contributor at Whilst Magazine. You can typically find her quoting “Napoleon Dynamite,” praying for rain, drinking way too much tea while reading Lester Bangs, singing the praises of intersectional feminism, or reading any book, ever.