On their fifth album, Heartless Bastards have moved further from their old sound to create their most accomplished record yet
estless Ones is the follow-up to 2012’s Arrow and sees Heartless Bastards continue the journey away from their garage rock roots towards a more polished-sounding future. With John Congleton (St Vincent, Angel Olsen, Swans) at the production helm, the album is introspective yet expansive, a journey out into the vast Texan landscape that housed the band during the album’s creation at El Paso’s Sonic Ranch.
In some ways Heartless Bastards will always be defined by singer/songwriter Erika Wennerstorm’s distinctive vocals. Packed with passionate power, it is an attention-demanding tornado ripping through the band’s music. Even when restrained, on tracks like Hi-Line and The Fool, it is still quietly seductive; when in full flight, as on the rocking Wind Up Bird and Eastern Wind, it is a truly potent weapon.
A host of new influences, from Syd Barrett to the Flaming Lips, were gathered by Wennerstorm and co before recording began and you can’t help but hear the results on album closer Tristessa. It oozes feedback and a shamanic vocal and sounds like nothing else on the record, perhaps a sign that the future might not be stadium rock after all.
By combining their old garage and Americana sound with the sheen of classic rock, Heartless Bastards have recorded an album which might just be their best to date.
Verdict: A confident step towards a more polished sound