Theo Katzman, best known for his work with the ever-funky Vulfpeck, has released three energetic tracks from his forthcoming solo-album, Heartbreak Hits. Katzman is a talented multi-instrumentalist, and his previous solo endeavor, Romance Without Finance, received well-deserved acclaim. His eclectic tastes are evident on the tracks we’ve heard so far, which blend classic and pop rock instrumentals with some rather funky licks. These tracks are decidedly more lyrics-driven than Katzman’s work with Vulfpeck, dancing around a central theme of personal loss and, unsurprisingly, heartbreak. Katzman has recruited Vulfpeck bassist Joe Dart for the album, as well as Lee Pardini on electric keyboard, and Woody Goss on acoustic piano. Laura Mace and Mike G provide piercing background vocals, giving the tracks we’ve heard a cathartic atmosphere.
“Hard Work,” the album’s first single, is an interesting dichotomy. The track has an upbeat and exultant tone, yet discusses the pain of making a concerted effort to support and maintain an unraveling relationship. High pitched backing vocals punctuate a nearly pop-punk riff, the songwriter’s outpouring of emotion clear as he enthusiastically laments his unrequited labors of love.
“My Heart is Dead” conjures up powerful imagery as Katzmann describes the physical sensation of heartbreak over a foot-stomping main riff. There is a decidedly classic rock and roll feeling on this tune, as Katzmann lets out a primal and adolescent condemnation of the injustice of heartbreak.
“Good to be Alone” slows down the pace, the cadence of Katzmann’s vocals complimenting his guitar as he laments the empty nature of loneliness. The painful nostalgia of a once-fulfilling love affair is both tragic and touching, conjuring up images of a world that has become dull and meaningless in its absence.
These songs are an intriguing departure from the style Katzmann has demonstrated in the past, as there are few musical similarities between Heartbreak Hits and the works of Vulfpeck. It seems that Katzmann has intentionally diverged from the funkier sound of Vulfpeck, choosing a more cathartic and emotional approach. Heartbreak Hits releases January 6th, 2017, and promises to be an intriguing journey through the agony of loss.