Between Top Gun’s eternally irritating hero Maverick ruling the big screen once more, Kate Bush topping the charts, Russia going mad and threatening nuclear war, the possibility of recession hanging over our heads, and acid-wash jeans regaining popularity among the young and the fashionable, it seems that the 80s are back with a vengeance.
This is excellent news for old-school Swedish crew H.e.a.t., because they wear their allegiance to the decade proudly on their denim, patch-adorned sleeve. Force Majeure, their seventh album, marks the return of their original frontman, Kenny Leckremo, following the departure of Swedish Idol-winner Erik Grönwall, and the intervening years have clearly been kind to him, as he hits those Dio-inspired high notes like a baseball hall-of-famer knocking the ball out of the park over and over again.
While the band attempted to experiment a little more on recent albums, this time there’s absolutely no messing about. Force Majeure is as straight-talking, no-nonsense as it gets, a towering love letter to the most classic of rock.
Album highlight and lead single Nationwide is on a highway to the danger zone, a high-octane celebration of like-minded crowds coming together to sing along – it might not actually be on the new Top Gun soundtrack, but spiritually that’s exactly where it belongs, backing an enthusiastic game of beach volleyball.
Guitars duel, riffs are given free rein to widdle away into infinity and beyond, vocal harmonies speak of an unbreakable brotherhood grounded in noise, beers and shampoo.
Tainted Blood is just a backwards-looped drum track away from Def Leppard in their stadium-shagging pomp, a call-and-response chorus backing Leckremo’s window-shattering wail, while One Of Us allows a bit of a breather with the obligatory tortured, lighter-waving ballad complete with a Slash-style guitar solo.
All the boxes have been ticked. What’s infectious about this album is that the band sound like they’re having such insane levels of fun. It’s like witnessing a puppy bounding around showing off its favourite new stick – if it doesn’t make you smile you must be at least a little bit dead inside.
H.e.a.t. are not cool, and they don’t want to be. Cool is boring. It’s restrictive. It’s overrated. Better to be the cake-fuelled kid running around in circles giggling until you’re dizzy and feeling a bit sick than the one sitting back looking down its nose at those joining in with the party. Join the gang and ride that wave of nostalgia.