Making the move from the underground to the mainstream can be a precarious journey, often exposing shortcomings in an artist and narrow mindedness in their peers and original listeners. Heathers, it seems, have little concern for such potential problems. Having cut their teeth on the Irish DIY scene centred around the Hideaway House and released a pleasant, stripped down debut album, Kingdom finds them embracing the opportunity to make a bigger budget follow up with gusto. Whatever we expected from Ellie and Louise MacNamara, it’s safe to say that this exceeds it and then some.
For a start, it sounds huge. Producer Max Dingle has brought his White Lies experience to bear which, coupled with the introduction of extra musicians and instruments, has resulted in a smart, sharp pop record. Crucially though, at its heart it still comes across as the work of the two sisters. The clever vocal harmonies and interplay are there, as is the driving acoustic guitar – only now they come backed with the full studio works. Only when do they go a bit just a bit too electronic (‘Gather Up’) does it sound as if they’re guests on someone else’s track. Other than that one case, Kingdom absolutely nails it. The songs are uniformly excellent, catchy and accessible while at the same time containing real depth – it’s hard not to be moved by the sweet sentiment of single ‘Forget Me Knots’, a highlight but by no means the only song of such an impressive standard.
With Kingdom, Heathers have delivered everything that a second record should be. Its roots are clear, its desire to push forward obvious and it’s just better on every single level. That, my friends, is how to do it.