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Heart: Fanatic

Pioneering sisters still doing it.

It’s a big year for Heart, what with the recent anthology box-set, an imminent memoir co-written with Charles Cross, and this, their 14th studio album in a four-decade career.

The Wilson sisters, singer Ann and guitarist Nancy, are often cited as having shown the world that women can ‘rock’ (although that label’s possibly a tad reductive), and they do exactly that here. Fanatic kicks in with a title track that reckons ‘love is pleasure, love is pain’ and riffs out with balls-to-the-wall single-mindedness.

If there’s an emphasis on heaviness here, and few songs that transcend the genre like Magic Man or Alone, there are still one or two surprises. Skin And Bones sounds weirdly familiar before you realise it’s a dead-ringer for Prince’s Kiss, while Walkin’ Good is a mellow duet with fellow Vancouver resident Sarah McLachlan.

Vancouver is also referenced in Rock Deep, a sweet, sincere waft of subjective nostalgia. The bigger picture of Dear Old America is a literate look back at growing up in a military household, with echoes of Springsteen or, more accurately, Mellencamp.

The key note, though, is steely-eyed riffery, and the guttural 59 Crunch makes 48 Crash sound girly. Heart: still beating.

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.