Chicago quartet The Hecks have been at it since 2012, starting out as the duo of guitarist Andy Mosiman and Zach Hebert. The band drafted guitarist Dave Vettraino into the fold, a recording engineer who was recording the band's self titled debut (Trouble In Mind, 2016) and ended up joining the band In 2017. The band's journey to the end result of My Star - their second album - has taken them nearly three years.
After recording an initial version of the album in 2017, The Hecks started gigging with new fourth member and keyboardist Jeff Graupner, whose synthesized squiggles added some welcome heft & swagger to the band's tunes. After reworking and rearranging much of the new material to integrate Graupner, the band scrapped the recordings and rebuilt them from the ground up, incorporating Graupner's skills at the keys. The results speak for themselves, as My Star is a gigantic leap forward for the band, absorbing everything from Manscape-era Wire to Paisley Park nu-funk to abstract new wave and art rock plucked straight from the Cold Storage playbook.
Much of My Star's ten tracks are designed to bewilder; the production is intentionally disorienting, with the mix tipped toward the treble, alternating from sparse to confoundingly dense at times, but never at a disservice to the songs themselves. Opener Zipper's intertwining guitar jabs &synth lines herk and jerk so rapidly it's liable to break your neck, while lead track So 4 Real's neon-laced dayglo soul ratchets up the mutant funk throb so tightly that the lilting, melodic guitar break at the chorus is a welcome dose of ear-candy. Heat Wave dials it back, reveling in romantic washes of synth and flange and its yearning refrain of "It's tearing me apart, ripping out my heart again"; a captivating, slow burning ballad unlike anything the band has done before. Meanwhile album closer (and title track) My Star is so cinematic, it feels like the lost end credits scene to a heartfelt teen drama, with its end coda taking up the bulk of the song's near-eight minute run time. My Star is designed to move you and make you move, you just have to let it.