The Hard Aches have been hard at work following a sold-out tour for their standalone single, ‘Brain Drain’, and have brought to the party an impressive sophomore release in ‘Mess’. The Adelaide indie-punk duo has produced a solid record loaded with catchy riffs and emotionally relevant lyrics about the trials and tribulations of live in general.

The titular opening track and lead single, ‘Mess’, is slow to start, but kicks into life with gusto. The refrain, “we’re not burning out”, speaks as a message of hope and perseverance. In contrast, ‘Get Out Of My House’ tells of the breakdown of a relationship, with a chant & clap section that will endure in their live shows going forward.

Camp Cope’s Georgia Maq shares the vocal duties in ‘Happy’, a lament about two people who are trying to keep each other happy while battling their own demons. Following on, ‘Friendship’ is a sad song about reaching out when in need. The track conveys a solemn emotion that wouldn’t be misinterpreted, even in the absence of lyrics. It finishes with a punchy decree showing that friendship is sometimes the only thing you need when you’ve lost all else. I couldn’t help but tap along to the drum beat in ‘Warm Blooded’, another track that starts out walking but finishes in a sprint. ‘Terrible Things’ is a powerful and engaging track, bringing to attention the changes of distance and time.

Without falling into giving a further track-by-track breakdown – because that’s like revealing the ending of a movie – the album is one of strength and character. It shares a rollercoaster of emotion and is unflinching in its raw honesty. This second release shows a burgeoning maturity in the band’s sound and is definitely worth a listen. I recommend taking a few trips around to make sure you don’t miss anything.