Growing up is a bitch; it is just that simple. It’s a heartbreaking mix of bullies, break-ups, and braces. Finding your voice in that mess of hormones is a daunting task that irks many of us through our adult life. Yet somehow in the thick of it all, Baltimore duo and avid shoplifters Metal Hearts have musically found a way to reassemble and redefine those woes into a record that is as refined as it is raw.
Eighteen-year-old Anar Badalov and Nineteen-year-old Flora Wolpert-Checknoff began making music together in January 2004. Says Wolpert-Checknoff, “"We met through my sexy Greek best friend. Anar was dating her that month, and I had dated her in Kindergarden.” So the time spent leading up to the band’s self-released debut Escapists was as much about contest as it was creation. However, within the context of competition came eventual artistic understanding—so much so that the enemies-turned-collaborators continued to write songs via email during their first year of campus life. Badalov, who moved to Baltimore with his family from Azerbaijan during the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union, sent sound files and correspondence to Wolpert-Checknoff, who’s lived in Baltimore since she was 2.
Eventually, each decided that college wasn’t the right place at the right time, and they returned to see what they could come up with together. Soon enough the former High School adversaries turned collaborators were back in Baltimore, living together, and plotting world domination for their proxy-band. Luckily the tension that had fueled their initial meeting continued to trickle onto the basement four-track. Adds Badalov, “The whole experience was fun…until we started going crazy we'd start laughing hysterically, then become upset and frustrated, back and forth." Escapists came out just as manically as the sessions that produced it. The follow-up sessions, which they immediately started recording afterwards, quickly grabbed the attention of Pacific Northwest mini-mogul David Dickenson. Before the band could blink they were opening for Pedro The Lion in front of a packed hometown crowd and had themselves a record deal.
On their Suicide Squeeze debut, Socialize, the duo (along with drummer/recording engineer Sam Leiber) drop a mope-addled dose of bedroom rock. On which Anar's baritone lends a low foundation to Flora's airy registers. Sonically meshing together the angular bites of Long Drive-era Modest Mouse, the expansive bedroom drone of Arab Strap, and the subtle whispers of Cat Power. All through blended waves of layered finger picking, sparse drum loops, stringed accompaniments and distinctive vocal melodies that weave in-and-out from the duo’s respective extremes. Wolpert-Checknoff pipes up, "We are already working on our next record, and words can't describe how excited we are about getting it out to people. It's far more expressive and evolved than Socialize is, although we do feel Socialize is a good start. We hope listeners think so, too" Badalov adds with a smirk, “yeah, this album sucks, but our next one's gonna rule!"
Ahh...to be young again!