Before considering Miss Lonelyheart’s recent EP “Ordinary Living,” you must consider Miss Lonelyheart, the band. And to consider Miss Lonelyheart, the band, here’s an excerpt of the group’s bio via their Facebook page:
“Miss Lonelyheart played hundreds of shows across the U.S. from 1994-2004 sharing the stage with the likes of Fugazi, Rye Coalition, Burning Airlines, Most Secret Method and hundreds of other bands. Miss Lonelyheart released three full-length albums, an EP, and a split 7-inch. The band played as a three-piece from 2002-2004 before going on hiatus. The original four-piece version of the band started rehearsing again in December of 2013.”
Got all that? Good.
So, in short, they were around for a while a long time ago, they went away, and now they’re back. Thus, the obvious must be said: The most remarkable thing about “Ordinary Living” is precisely how fresh, hungry and contemporary it sounds. Granted, the pop-grunge-emo-indie vibe that they mastered decades ago is still here — think the space between Jawbox and Jawbreaker, which ultimately amounts to nothing short of jaw-dropping — but there’s a shine throughout all of this that serves the quartet awfully well.
And at three songs, they know how to leave the listener salivating for more. The set commences with “Empty Space,” a dance-tastic three minutes that only grows in fury as the call-and-response vocals infiltrate consciousness via the question, “Does anyone really care at all?” J Oyer’s drums prove to be the driving force here, his pitter-patter hi-hat pattern creating urgency as dueling guitars reflect one another with precision and taste. Then, as the bridge opens up, it’s hard not to hear echoes of Chicago rockers Spitalfield or This Is Me Smiling, the vocal harmonies creating tangible parallels between the two.
The middle kid here holds up its end of the bargain as well as the title track slows down adequately while referencing early-day Alkaline Trio with its catchy guitar hook and downtrodden vocals. Dynamism is the name of the game here, though, as the low-key verses explode into a more aggressive chorus. Making it stand out even further is its resistance toward typical pop formulas that almost always demand a middle section; this song spits in the face of that age-old adage and it’s much better off for it.
Everything then concludes with perhaps the set’s best track, “A Call.” Announcing itself with tastefully sparse bass guitar work, it’s the most complete song the band offers here. Plus, that not-so-secret weapon of those two interwoven six-strings continues to stand out with aplomb and refinement. Better yet is the song’s halfway point when the volume lowers and a mumbled refrain sets up shop for the most accessible moment on this short EP. It’s Exhibit A for why this band’s specialty is good, old-fashioned, fantastic guitar rock.
But, really, the truth is that Miss Lonelyheart has more than one specialty. Matured pop sensibilities? Yes. Creative, affable song structures? You can count on that, too. And “Ordinary Living” proves that when these guys are on (anything but hiatus), they are one of the premiere rock acts around. Without their rock ‘n’ roll sensibilities and unabashed knack for writing a memorable hook, the scene feels just a little more empty than it should. So, thanks for coming back, guys. Maybe stick around for a bit?
Because as these three songs insist, there’s nothing ordinary here at all.
*** 3 STARS OUT OF 4 ***