In a promotional video released weeks before Eagles of Death Metal's new record, singer Jesse Hughes exuded joy as he described the current state of his hometown: "Hollywood feels like this opening sequence to Saturday Night Fever. Everyone seems like they're ready for action—and the action is go." If only that sort of abundant energy translated to the band's new release.
A decade after being merely a Josh Homme side project, Eagles of Death Metal has taken the role of being one of rock 'n' roll's loudest, cockiest, and cheekiest bands. Between the group's first two albums, Peace, Love and Death Metal and Death By Sexy, EoDM created its own universe; one which focused almost exclusively on hard rocking, innumerable double entendres, and the devil. With Heart On, however, the luster is gone, the rocking isn't as hard, and the sexual innuendo isn't nearly as fierce as it once was (album title aside). Whereas Jesse "The Devil" Hughes once sang about the mixed emotions associated with diving into the depths of questionable sexual eligibility, the band now takes a thematic higher ground, often focusing on "emotions" and "relationships." Hughes himself asks the question late into the album: "How can a man with so many friends feel so alone?"
Things aren't entirely blasé with Heart On, however. The album's lead single "Wanna Be in L.A." sounds like a reckless, beer-soaked surfer, barely hanging onto a repetitive flow before wisely fading out. "Secret Plans" prominently expels much of the record's tired sound, adding the tight-fisted chorus "I want what I want, what I want, what I want, what I want." And if repetition and the occasional suggestive lyric could save the album, Eagles of Death Metal would be solid gold. Instead, Heart On sounds far less like a vivacious representation of the city, and a lot more like the cliché that Hollywood has become.