Label: Melodic Release date: 05/10/09 Website: You’d be entirely forgiven for not recalling Manchester indie electro trio The Longcut and their excellent debut album A Call and Response. It’s been over three years since that record’s release, so to say they have considered their next move carefully is quite an understatement. That’s a shame, as A Call and Response was a fine record and their live show is quite frankly transcendent, with default frontman Stuart Ogilvie traipsing this way and that, to the mic or to trigger electronics one moment, to pound away behind his drumkit the next. A ‘call to arms’ might have become something of a cliché when it comes to describing album openings these days, but in Out at the Roots’ case it’s fairly accurate. “Put on those dancing boots, we’re gonna tear this place right out at the roots” Ogilvie urges amidst the flailing chorus. A ferocious, razor-sharp bassline from Jon Fearon slingshots the track along, free to breathlessly dip in and out of the chorus. The droning guitar intro of Tell You So continues Lee Gale’s never-fail technique of finding an interesting chord shape and holding it for as long as humanly possible, a saturated slab of noise lulling into almost-vacant sections of calm, propelled by relentless drumming. Open Hearts is an album on which The Longcut try steadfastly to reconcile the differences between their often astounding material and the record’s troublesome gestation. Lead single Repeated is comparatively short and simple, leaving it functioning as a teaser to an album which contains far greater things. Mary Bloody Sunshine takes off from a stilted, see-sawing riff into a flurry of multitracked guitars and washing keys, happens upon a wheezing breakdown, then is off again with acoustic percussion. Open Hearts really hits its stride from Evil Dance onwards, a danceable melee reminiscent of A Call and Response’s A Quiet Life. Techno keyboards and tinkling cymbals are hewn by another strident bassline, glitching beats and glacial synths. The snow from its rippling beat causes Ogilvie’s vocal to distort, as if he we were watching The Longcut on Channel 4 in 1989, and embellishing the album with a human, not-quite pristine atmosphere; always interesting in the relatively sterile realm of electro. The title track is clearly, far and away the best track on the album and arguably the best thing The Longcut have done, beginning with a quiet and reserved picked guitar chime before going undergoing several thrilling stages of metamorphosis. The bass is fuzzier and looser than other tracks and is gradually caked with gently swaying keyboards in euphoric waves and pulses. Remix hi-hats and delay-soaked vocal loops become increasingly frenetic, before Open Hearts ascends into two minutes of sheer, sweaty, last-song-in-the-club, dance-with-your-eyes-closed joy before tottering off into the frosty, slo-mo night of At Any Time. The Longcut have timed Open Hearts’ release unwittingly rather well, indie disco being hot just now. Unfortunate though it may be, their star has definitely waned; the venues visited on their current tour are noticeably smaller than they’ve played in the past. Whilst the band’s sophomore album doesn’t scale the consistently immense heights of A Call and Response provided by A Last Act of Desperate Men, Gravity in Crisis and Vitamin C, anyone who enjoyed that record will welcome this release. Hopefully, The Longcut won’t take such an eye-wateringly excruciating length of time to produce a follow-up to Open Hearts and capitalise on its success. Rating: 8/10