Tuk Smith & The Restless Hearts — Ballad Of A Misspent Youth (MRG)
It’s five years since Tuk Smith let rip in an explosive interview offering an insight into the imminent implosion of previous band Biters.
He complained about record label indifference and the pressure to conform.
He raged at being forced to be someone he’s not.
And Smith lamented the fact that Biters found themselves on a treadmill of dispiriting support tours opening up for fans who simply didn’t care.
“I’m almost convinced people don’t want rock and roll,” he sighed.
Twelve months later Smith announced Biters were on an indefinite — and inevitable — hiatus.
But if the end was nigh for one of the most febrile new acts of the decade then the band’s feisty founder stayed in the fight.
Smith’s always been a battler.
He rolled with the punches, penned a new record, got added to Def Leppard’s Stadium Tour with Mötley Crüe and then…the pandemic hit.
Ballad Of A Misspent Youth should have been released via Better Noise (Crüe’s label) a while back.
But Smith’s latest record deal — like his coveted slot on the Stadium Tour — was snatched away as Covid rewrote the music industry’s rulebook.
History repeating itself?
Call it bad luck, bad timing or bad karma (given his outspoken criticism of the music business) but Smith was back to where he started.
Which makes the release of this rollicking record all the more remarkable.
It’s criminal that a seminal talent like Smith has been sidelined for so long.
But as the beating heart of The Restless Hearts he’s back where he belongs — breathing new life into a genre on life support.
And persuading the masses they do want rock rock and roll, after all.
Youth Gone Wild
Unsurprisingly, given his love of all things glam and 70s rock, there’s a reassuring swagger underpinning Ballad Of A Misspent Youth.
Smith evokes every one of his rock and roll heroes across eight carefully curated tracks oozing understated cool and cocksure conviction.
But the glitter and glitz is tempered by broad strokes of cynicism borne out of a career spent battling the system.
Pseudo ballad Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead is a classic case in point.
Mott The Hoople meets Oasis as this bittersweet reflection on the fame game allows Smith to deliver a thinly veiled vent against the past.
The gnarly, fast-paced title track revisits Biters’ punk-fuelled peak. And it rocks.
Girls On The East Side Of Town relies on a thoroughly riotous Thin Lizzy riff (Smith has never sounded more like Phil Lynott).
But Lovesick City brings The Restless Hearts’ sound bang up to date with an addictive indie rock vibe liable to pique the interest of the cool kids – whoever they are.
Smith’s instinct might be to root his new band’s sound firmly in the past.
And yet the Georgia native knows how to tap into the psyche of 2022’s tastemakers.
Furious set closer Forgive But Won’t Forget sees Smith leans on some spectacular fretwork as this short but sweet return to form delivers an explosive finish.
Ballad Of A Misspent Youth is a feast for the senses.
Tuk in. While you still can.