It's not just the words themselves, but the way Rude delivers them, that raise goose bumps. "I've done evil / I've done wrong," from the song "Malvina," just doesn't transfer adequately into print. Likewise, "No one wants to hit me in the face / What a shame / What a shame" can't be read aloud with the same reckless revelry Rude applies to it in the upbeat "Scottish Eyes."
That song and the jangly "A Live Wire" are the liveliest tracks, a welcome change from the otherwise downbeat fare that constitutes the rest of the disc. Don't get me wrong; Heartbeast is an album that's all about the brooding melancholy, but after a while, all that stark, beautiful sadness is likely to exact an emotional toll on your soul. Perhaps this is because too many of the songs are strummed on a droning electric in a dragging three-quarters time--this establishes mood well, but by the closing track, the repetition is a little tiring.
But then again, Heartbeast isn't meant to be an easy-listening album. Rude rewards the listener who pays attention. Like a Radiohead album, Heartbeast proves that strange, brooding and challenging doesn't have to mean esoteric.