A few years ago, Josh Ingersoll handed me a CD in a cardboard slip called The Heart Pills. I skimmed over the cover, saw titles like “Country Song,” and “Happy New Year Holden Caulfield,” among others, and had one of those Blues Brothers moments of doubt. You know, who are these turkeys, anyways? Heart Pills? I’d heard of heart medication for senior citizens with cholesterol issues and heart worm pills for dogs, but I’d never heard of this: some sort of musical back story with vague underlying prerogatives for understanding the meaning of life…or something like that. At the time, I just didn’t really know.
Over the last few years, I’ve attended countless Heart Pills shows as they’ve evolved into their current outfit—Josh Ingersoll on guitar, Sarah Bodeau on organ, Matt Haapala on drums, and Silas Thompson on the bass—and, after seeing Josh take a hacksaw to his guitar strings for the hundredth time, I think I’m finally starting to feel my joints loosening, my bones filling with musical marrow, and my love for the band only continuing to grow. Now, with the release of the album To Paul, From Dad 1951, The Heart Pills seem to have found a perfect recipe for that medicine they’re pushing and are well on their way to becoming much more than FDA-approved.
Getting past the analogy for a moment, the album’s sound is as unique as it gets. Garage-punk-surf-psych-party-pop-rock would be this writer’s best shot at a description. Make no mistake about it, The Heart Pills have found a sound of their own, inherent in each of the songs, that propels the album from start to finish. It is catchy, fresh, and determined, and though many of the tracks were previously recorded by Josh alone, this is definitely a huge leap in the right direction for the band as a whole. From the instrumentation to the recording process, the effected vocals and trash can bangs, to the Beach Boys-style party interludes sprinkled throughout, this album smacks of paradox: honed upheaval, sarcastic seriousness, professional folly.
These paradoxes alone are enough to make this album a must-own, but add Josh Ingersoll’s sarcastic wit in lyrics like “thank god for fake fur, and thank god for fake tanneries,” danceable compositions like openers “Pinball City Crime Fighter,” and “Sidewalk Josie,” and sing-a-long style hooks such as those found in “Bus Ride,” and you have something that takes the Eau Claire sound to a new level. Imagine eighties punk meets seventies psych-rock meets nineties pop-rock. Now, Imagine all of that taken and craftily blended with kitchen utensil percussion, combo organ prowess, raucous Animal-style drumming, and faux country drawl harmonies. These are all components that make up the band’s sound. However, if one looks closely for the secret ingredient to The Heart Pills and their new album, it lies in the band’s ability to find creativity in sculpting appealing songs, long-standing friendships amongst outside-of-the-box thinkers, and, most importantly, a life-long love of all things music.
- Brendon Hertz (August 9, 2011)