Manchester, UK-based trio The Longcut release their second full-length album, Open Hearts -- the long-awaited follow-up to their acclaimed 2006 debut, A Call And Response. There's been a shift to grassroots principals for this album: it was recorded in the band's Salford rehearsal room (with some vocals done at home in the shower, for that cavernous, echoing effect). It was also produced by friend-of-the-band and Nine Black Alps guitarist David Jones, who brought "a fucked up pop sensibility." For a group whose reputation was built on blistering live shows, they set out to make an album that reflected the raw energy of their performances -- and succeeded. This is the rough-edged, vital, visceral sound of a band at the peak of their powers. It's still undeniably The Longcut -- Stuart's shamanic howls, Jon's crunching bass and Lee's hypnotic guitar are all in place -- but it's fresher, trimmer and more focused than ever before. Lyrically, it's upbeat, happier, love-struck even, but with that weighty sonic sucker-punch behind it to counter-balance the sugar. The title, Open Hearts, refers to a shift in the band's focus, bringing emotion into the often bleak landscape of post-rock. This release follows a period of change for the band, whose original label, Deltasonic, was cut adrift from Sony after their first album. Throughout the interim period, the trio's passion for music grew, and they have embraced the chance to make their own album in their own way. This is an album that retains its darkened, Manchester roots, with industrial/electro synths and beats that darken bright washes of guitar-driven intensity.