If you’ve never heard of The Wildhearts, I pity you as I would the village idiot. And I am willing to bet you’re from North America. For some reason that I’ve never been able to fathom, these fearsomely fantastic British hard-rawk rebels have never been able to get any traction on this side of the Atlantic, despite being deservedly beloved in their homeland. Well, here’s your chance to do your small part in making up for that. The long-overdue Renaissance Men is the on-again, off-again band’s ninth album and first new LP in a decade. It’s also a balls-out blast of wall-to-wall punk and metal that’s as good as anything they’ve ever released. On these tunes, sometimes they’re as heavy as Motörhead. Sometimes they’re as melodic as The Beatles. Other times they’re as cheeky and snotty as the Sex Pistols. Very often, they’re all of those things in the same song. Consistently and without fail, they’re head and shoulders above the competition, thanks in no small part to singer-guitarist, chief songwriter and sole permanent member Ginger Wildheart’s ability to combine massive hooks, relentlessly inventive song structures and dark-humoured lyrics. One more important fact: Renaissance Men also marks the reunion of the band’s so-called ‘classic lineup,’ including a bassist who came back after 13 years — and after having part of his leg amputated following an aneurysm. If that doesn’t tell you how awesome and unstoppable The Wildhearts are, I can’t help you.