Heartsrevolution has been a known name in the club scene both here in the states and across the pond since 2008, so it may be a bit surprising to discover that their first full-length album is only now coming out. Over the past few years, the duo went far to promote an image that made their name one to be remembered. Lead singer Leyla “Lo” Safai dons a pink stripe across her eyes, they travel across the country in a Swarovski crystal-covered ice cream truck, and they leave eye-striped stuffed animals hanging around the country.
The trio of highly danceable singles that originally won Heartsrevolution a following were “Dance ‘til Dawn,” “Switchblade,” and "Choose Your Own Adventure." While these songs’ unusual beats and enthusiastic vocals added to their appeal, they were lyrically quite simplistic and consisted of little more than rousing catch phrases. But six years later, on their debut record, the band shows far more sophistication in terms of lyrics, melodies, and vocals. On Ride or Die the band’s name emerges in reference to an actual revolution: a desire to change our media and culture’s focus on vapid pursuits like celebrities and stardom.
The album’s first single “Kiss” starts off with a bass-heavy beat while lead singer Leyla “Lo” Safai sings in a style that melds her punky scream with a retro pop. The lyrics express a sweeter, simpler concept than the album’s other songs, but Lo’s vocal vibe remains true to its typically edgier style. “Brillanteen” starts out bluesy with Lo dramatically singing “I owe you nothing” over pared-down guitar, but then the beats kick in. Lo chants, “celebrity obsession/society’s oppression,” while a vocal sample that sounds straight off of E! Channel awards show coverage announces, “Everybody who’s anybody is here at the red carpet, or wants to be…Two A-listers showed up in the same dress. Send us your texts everyone and let us know who wore it best.”
On the title track, Lo gives a rousing call to action over fast-paced drum beats. “Excuse me I got something to say,” she announces, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner/It seems to me I’ve got some things to say/ Because you give me the hope and then you take it away.” On the powerfully political “Generation Wh(Y),” Lo connects our media’s fixation on celebdom to the lack of action taken to address violence against women both internationally and nationally. She sings in a slower, more bittersweet tone over drum beats akin to a march to battle. “Our little girls are raped and killed/Bought and sold against their will/All you care to ask is who wore it better?/If you see the things I see/Why won’t you stand and fight with me.” The messages within Ride or Die may be a bit simplistic and obvious, but their call for societal change is admirable. Here’s to a revolution you can actually dance to! –Adrienne Urbanski
Heartsrevolution and their crystal-encrusted ice cream truck can be found at the BUST Craftacular in LA on June 21st!