Andrew Marr is a multi-talented New York based musician, singer, lyricist and the driving force behind Big Heart, the debut LP from the now four piece Ski Lodge. This long anticipated follow up to their 2011 self-titled EP highlights Marr’s transition from an amateur twenty something singer-songwriter into a commercially viable artist finding his feet in a professional studio environment while enlisting the help of LA producer Lewis Pesacov. The album title mirrors the intense emotion that Marr has poured into this LP, embodying the formative years of his life and dealing with such poignant subject matter as family discord, social acceptance, love and inevitable heartbreak.
The opening track Anything to Hurt You begins with a generic riff which swiftly makes way for a fervent, foot-tapping pop beat; think Kevin Bacon getting Footloose circa 1984. The undercurrent of 80’s energy is particularly audible when it comes to Just to be Like You a track which tackles a complex father-son relationship. The deeply evocative lyrics are dulled by the sharp, contagious rhythm that keeps the listener bobbing throughout. The stark contrast between bittersweet content and upbeat arrangements is a common thread throughout the album.
It was difficult to listen to this LP in its entirety without being instantly reminded of one of the most noted indie pop groups of the 1980s The Smiths. Songs such as I Always Thought and Boy display clear influences from Morrissey and The Smiths as a whole. Marr’s vocal mimics that of Morrissey’s with the same touch of feminism, melancholy and falsetto cries. The often sarcastic undertone in many Smiths’ songs also resonates here with songs like You Just Can’t Stop Being Cruel; tell me how you’ve come, how you’ve come so very far and if you only saw what a train wreck you really are.
The slow-tempo title track from the album is the most haunting, offering a deeper insight into what was obviously a profoundly emotional time for Marr with the poignant opening line; big heart say your goodbyes it’s your time, it is your time to go. In comparison, the other slow-tempo songs are somewhat lackluster; an injection of colour in the form of a more distinct bass is needed to balance out Marr’s somber vocal.
This album is the perfect tonic to any emotional quandary; before you know it you’ll find yourself consumed by the infectious rhythm and kicking off your Sunday shoes.