Andy Michaels releases second album, Incendiary Heart
Hybrids are all the rage in indie rock right now, and few artists in the Australian underground are making them work as well for their sound as Andy Michaels is on his second album, Incendiary Heart. Incendiary Heart contains fourteen songs, one principle songwriter and five different singers lending their pipes to melodies that are equal parts pop and rock in most places, but it presents audiences with a sound that is anything but repetitive in nature. Contrarily, Andy Michaels’ new record is a diverse look into the future of pop/rock that doesn’t owe much to any particular movement in the industry today, and this alone makes it a wonderful listen this month.
The bass presence in Incendiary Heart’s tracklist, from the folky tunes like “Darling It Hurts” and “Rambling Man” to the cathartic soft rock of “I Can Fly,” “Humming Bird” and “Sticks and Stones,” is nothing mind-blowing by any means, yet each of the aforementioned songs has a physicality that this kind of music typically doesn’t possess. All of this material was mixed to shake our bodies and our souls, which isn’t exactly an easy thing to do with acoustic and lyric-driven songs like those on this album.
I found the music video for “Darling It Hurts” to be a sharp watch for sure, but I wouldn’t say that it’s overproduced or so bluntly high definition that it takes away from the source material’s natural glow. It’s actually rather streamlined when compared side by side with the overall tone of the content on Incendiary Heart, and in the bigger picture, it’s devoid of the cheap filler that would keep most of us away from a video by an independent, non-major label pop artist trying to find his footing in an ever-evolving (and never easygoing) music industry.
“Emerald Eyes,” “Planet 8,” the delicate “Fireflies” and hollow “The Flame” probably wouldn’t work as well in a live capacity as they do in this studio setting – simply because of their multilayered mix, which would be hard to replicate on stage – but even that withstanding, I really like the experimental structures they show off to us. I really want to hear Andy Michaels work with Kerry Ironside, Tiarna Madison, Sharon Court and Carolyn Thomas again in the future, because while he’s undisputedly the star of the show in every song here, the magic he makes with his collaborators on Incendiary Heart is just a little more fascinating than the idea of seeing him rework this tracks for a live concert on his own.
It’s not without a couple of flaws here and there, but in general, Andy Michaels’ Incendiary Heart is still one of the best indie LPs I’ve heard on either side of the pacific in 2020. Michaels has grown a lot as an artist in the last two years, and though he’s not going to break into the mainstream with this one release alone, he’s showing himself to have more than what it takes to make the crossover with a little more experience and a lot more harmonies like those we hear on this fabulous new album.