If your normal selection of rock music needs a pick-me-up, The XCERTS have a solution. Hold On to Your Heart, the band’s third album, is an arena rock headbanger with a twist of heavy new wave influences. Soaring between finely-tuned tracks, The XCERTS keep a tight hold and never let go through 10 songs of carefully constructed (and well-executed) power-rock-meets-new-wave ballads. This is a band practically begging for commercial success, and it would be easy to see them achieve that goal with this new album.
Starting the album is “The Dark”, a soulful ballad reminiscent of a band like Coldplay. Lead singer Murray Macleod’s voice trills to the piano, washing over the entire album as a thoughtful table setter. This song is vastly different musically than the rest of the album, save for the last bookending track “Cry”, but it provides an excellent backdrop that is carried over in rhythm sections of the other 8 songs. There is so much energy in the rest of the album that it only seems fitting to have two ballads at the beginning and the end. This is a very clever choice.
Despite the fact that The XCERTS seem to be holding onto those cool 90s beat machines, there is a freshness to this album. This band is exciting, reborn into new wave rock with a nod to vocals popular with the 2000s emo scene. With so much many elements at work, it’s hard to not catch on to the electricity of The XCERTS. However, there is a compact feeling in Hold On to Your Heart, sometimes overwhelmingly so. One specific flavor comes through consistently, and although it is pleasing to have a cohesive album, the narrow sound can get a little old.
Luckily for the short attention span listeners of today, The XCERTS pivot to an entirely different sound with the song “Drove Me Wild”. We are snapped back to the diversity of what this band has to offer, saxophone wailing throughout the opening and bridge. Clearly heavily influenced by acts like Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty, this track is gripping in all the right ways and would be a classic summer anthem for a “mainstream” band. Here’s to hoping The XCERTS get that chance with Hold On to Your Heart.