A lot has changed for Hales Corner since their 2016 debut album Garden View. Wes and Caleb, the band's founding members, left Bloomington, Indiana, to begin playing and writing songs with a new drummer and bassist in a shared house on the south side of Indianapolis.
Recording at Melt Audio in Indianapolis provided a perfect marriage between the band's early, self-recorded sound and their dynamic live feel. As before, the intricate guitar interplay between Wes and Caleb remains the beating heart of each track, from the opening notes of the first song "Welcome" to the striking chorus of album-standout "Trixies" to the charming verses of "Cradles". However, the additions of Earl on drums, Chelsea (Wes' sister) on backing vocals, and Wes himself on clarinet further enliven the music; the songs are fuller and more vibrant than ever. It all comes together on bluesy, slow-burner "Reminder", with energetic, yet patient drumming and a sunbaked chorus that features Chelsea's harmonies and a smooth clarinet purr.
Lyrically, the band has never been one for starry-eyed optimism, and these songs are once again painfully grounded. The first track, "Welcome", really sets the tone: "welcome to the daily grind / you'll find your time / wasted before your eyes". Whether the openhearted and empathetic "we're all selling ourselves in this life" of "Whores" or the conflicted "they say the city has gone to the dogs" of "Trixies", Hales Corner refuse to shy away from what they see happening to themselves and those around them. It's earnest and honest songwriting.
Caleb sums it up best: "The album isn’t, or shouldn't be pitched as us bitching about the stuff we all have to deal with, but more of how that stuff can be unifying, absolving, and hopeful if you choose to actually look at it."
Wes: Vocals, Guitars, Clarinet (1, 3, 5, 9, 11)
Caleb: Guitars, Keyboards, Saw (5, 8)
Chelsea: Vocals (1, 3, 4, 5, 9)
Photographs by Alex Gonzales
Recorded and Mixed at Melt Audio, Indianapolis
Mastered by Kate Siefker