Hearts Of Oak

  • Record Label: Lookout
  • Release Date: Feb 11, 2003
Metascore
84

Universal acclaim - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 17
  2. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. Hearts Of Oak is one of those albums on which each song has the power to get you thinking, and the hooks to resonate inside your head long after it's through playing.
  2. 100
    There have been releases that have excited me so far, but none that have completely recharged my faith in intelligent rock music. This is the first essential album of the year.
  3. Alternative Press
    100
    On Hearts, riffs exist in cutting words and soulful guitar lines, not glittery axe solos; and every intricately timed punch to the throat is mastery. [Feb 2003, p.64]
  4. Spin
    90
    The songs are flat-out rollicking, like what Fugazi might come up with if their tour-van radio got stuck on the classic-rock station. [Feb 2003, p.98]
  5. If he's not this generation's most raggedly refined songwriting presence, then he's certainly in the top ten percent of his class -- a bona fide show-stopping tunesmith on a par with giants Elliott Smith, Ron Sexsmith and Richard Davies.
  6. He just may be to indie rock what Springsteen was for rock'n'roll in 1973 -- a strong, original voice whose honest and painstakingly crafted art seems destined to be a benchmark for future generations as well as encouraging the current one to stand up and testify.
  7. Any rock album that tackles such a wide spectrum without compromising the music deserves respect.
  8. Entertainment Weekly
    83
    Ted Leo turns gasping, insistent vocals into narratives that are political and pop, never compromising one for the other. [21 Feb 2003, p.150]
  9. Eschewing pretentious unpretentiousness for unguarded passion, strict 77-82 influences for the classic rock stop on the FM dial, calculated instrumental inadequacy for guitar solos that are less technical flaunting (looking at you, Malkmus) than skillful, noisy exorcisms, Ted Leo makes a sound filled with so much authentic abandon, the British mags probably can't handle it.
  10. An excellent album, perhaps not eclipsing the band's previous work, but at least firmly holding its ground.
  11. In the vein of Kevin Rowland or Elvis Costello, Ted Leo writes lyrical rock songs that sprawl out and rarely depend on a chorus.
  12. Mojo
    70
    These songs of faith and endurance work because the singer/guitarist and his band play according to their album's title--with hearts of oak, which refers not to flesh turned stiff, but to spirits that are stout, strong, tall. [Apr 2003, p.112]
  13. Magnet
    70
    Not quite essential but is damn close. [#58, p.97]
  14. Leo's racial politics are serious and confused in that familiar white-guy-in-D.C. way, but word-heavy, wound-up gems such as "Hearts of Oak," "The Anointed One" and "The Ballad of the Sin Eater" prove he knows how to turn political conviction into punk energy.
  15. The only real problem with Hearts of Oak is that the band still can't make their less immediately compelling tracks sound as electric and urgent on record as they do when the Pharmacists tear up the stage.
  16. The impact is inconsistent but stronger.

Awards & Rankings

User Score
8.9

Universal acclaim- based on 14 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 10
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 10
  3. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. MoiraD
    Feb 24, 2006
    10
    Wonderful. I love Ted Leo. His music is intricate and more complicated than any recent rock I've listened to, but the lyrics are Wonderful. I love Ted Leo. His music is intricate and more complicated than any recent rock I've listened to, but the lyrics are absolutely fantastic. Thumbs up for Ted Leo & The Pharmacists. Full Review »
  2. BenH.
    Aug 25, 2005
    9
    A great ablum, a number of profound lyrics on it. But it isn't one of Ted Leo/RX most tuneful albums.
  3. DaneD
    Mar 29, 2005
    9
    "Hearts of Oak" is my favorite Leo/Rx album. Not many critics share my opinion on the matter, preferring instead the tunefulness of "The "Hearts of Oak" is my favorite Leo/Rx album. Not many critics share my opinion on the matter, preferring instead the tunefulness of "The Tyranny of Distance" or the stylistically unified "Shake the Streets". However, "Hearts..." has a spontaneity and experimentalism not captured by either of the other two albums, employing unpolished-yet-captivating production throughout that never sheens off the emotional bite of the arrangements. In comparison to "Tyranny...", this disc offers more confidence without the stylistic self-awareness of Leo/Rx's latest work. Full Review »