Album Review- Cannons, “Heartbeat Highway”

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Cannons Heartbeat Highway cover

Cannons have some heat on them lately thanks to the new trend of so-called sped-up versions of songs heard mostly widely on TikTok. The song getting them all the attention these days is a sped-up version of a tune from 2019 called “Fire Me Up.” The original version is from their long-player called Shadows and first got traction after being featured in the very fine TV series Never Have I Ever. Cannons have since released the highly recommended Fever Dream (2022), which features their best tune, “Ruthless.” The even stronger Heartbeat Highway is their most recent album and came out last fall.

Hopefully, the interest in “Fire Me Up” will spur interest in the new album, though if it does, it will likely be because people want that sped up as well. And that’s the opposite of what you want if you’re going to enjoy Heartbeat Highway.

For the most part, Cannons clumped all the singles near the beginning and middle of the album, though the title track, also the power cut, could have easily been a single as well. These tunes bounce along with nice, catchy melodies and are a great opener. To that end, “Heartbeat Highway,” the song, gives a good indication of the band’s sound pallet for the album.

“Crush,” the fourth single, is the second track and features a great vocal hook. It has a very contemporary feel, as does the whole album. In other words, it’s harder to hear the influences from the synth-pop pioneers of yore in many spots, though it fits nicely with modern electronic music.

One of the exceptions to that is “Sweeter,” which gives a nod to the ‘80s new wave sound of Southern California not with synths but its twangy Western guitar. A wispy number, the guitar work echoes Wall of Voodoo, Devo, and a bit of Oingo Boingo. Similarly, “Metal Heart” adds some guitar flavor, but as the title might suggest, it’s a crunchier ax. “Desire,” the second single, brings a more late ‘80s pop/alternative guitar to the party along with a very late ‘80s keyboard hook.

“Loving You,” the first single, has all kinds of hooks within, including one that’s whistled (likely by a synth, but it works), drum machine claps, and a subtle guitar riff. It all fits together quite nicely. “Bad Tattoo,” the third single, works in a similar way. The synth line playing the bass, though, is brought up higher in the mix.

The album closes with “Dancing in the Moonlight,” which is not a cover of the King Harvest hit from the ‘70s (also made famous by Toploader with their 1999 version). Given the band’s penchant for covers, one might think that was the case. Its synth strings provide a nice ending to a fine album, one that should not be overshadowed by a TikTok trend.

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PF WilsonAlbum Review- Cannons, “Heartbeat Highway”