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Heartless Bastards - Restless Ones (Review)

Heartless Bastards, Restless Ones

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

AUSTIN rockers Heartless Bastards have delivered a sprawling fifth album in Restless Ones, which more than lives up to its name by refusing to sit still.

Built around massive guitar sounds and a sense of wanderlust that only America’s vast landscapes can inspire, this offers up some anthemic tracks that are tailor-made for driving long distances, or being played loud in pretty big stadiums.

Drawing musical inspiration from bands such as The Byrds, Syd Barrett, The Faces and The Flaming Lips, this is also the sound of a band expanding their distinctive blues-powered rock ‘n’ roll into exciting new territories. And while some tracks may err towards the more self-indulgent, there’s more than enough here to excite genuine rock ‘n’ roll fans.

Wind Up Bird sets things in motion, for instance, with a big track, shot through with wonderful blasts of slide guitar, while Gates of Dawn, a former single, combines some electrifying hooks to augment the stirring bass and acoustic intro. It’s another big song, although more reined in that its predecessor and one that undoubtedly showcases Heartless Bastards’ ability to draw from the ’70s classic rock heyday while remaining canny enough to deliver tight songs that appeal to today’s rock fans.

Black Cloud is another great listen… again constructed around a catchy guitar hook and thriving on a similarly catchy chorus, that offsets some of the darker elements of the lyrics.

If singer/songwriter Erika Wennerstrom sometimes finds her gritty vocal style at odds with some of the instrumentals (the country tinged Hi-Line being a case in point), she is at her most distinct when wrapping them around some of the harder riffs.

Hence, Journey is a fine marriage of all things Heartless Bastards and almost Tom Petty-esque at times, while The Fool drops a nicely mellow edge that drifts into pleasing psychedelic territory while being a little more reminiscent of The Byrds.

And if more spaced out tracks like Pocket Full of Thirst and Tristessa fail to ignite, then efforts like Eastern Wind really elevate the album back to some pretty high standards. That track, in particular, is arguably the album’s finest offering… a sprawling epic that really does capture that wanderlust ethos under-pinning things, and which drops some awe-inspiring guitar solos. It’s a sublime moment that combines rock and psychedelia seamlessly.

And it’s why Restless Ones should be considered as one of Heartless Bastards’ greatest achievements yet.

Download picks: Gates of Dawn, Black Cloud, Eastern Wind, Journey, The Fool

Track listing:

  1. Wind Up Bird
  2. Gates of Dawn
  3. Black Cloud
  4. Hi-line
  5. Journey
  6. Pocket Full of Thirst
  7. Into the Light
  8. The Fool
  9. Eastern Wind
  10. Tristessa