It takes a lot of balls to put the word "hearts" in your band name — especially in these post-emo days, when wearing your emotions on your sleeve makes songwriters walking, whining targets for derision. But Randall Buckland has never had a problem wearing that particular muscle on his sleeve; since fronting the late, underappreciated Endgame, he's perpetuated all the great elements of emo — sincerity, dynamics and songcraft — and ditched the bullshit. Starting the Hearts is Buckland's latest project, and it's a maturation of his evocative approach, even as it stays tethered to a refreshing youthfulness: Drawing from the '90s sound of the Promise Ring and Jawbreaker's Dear You, Starting the Hearts' self-titled, four-song debut is a tuneful, wistful sliver of slow-burning, romantic pop punk. And there's even a bit of '80s-teen-soundtrack flair to the keyboard-heavy "The Fall" (it's not like the '90s invented emotion). Luckily, Starting the Hearts makes it all sound timeless.
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