On their second album, Adelaide rock two-piece The Hard Aches have distilled their sound into something quite wonderful, producing a record of raw and ragged beauty.

The songwriting is consistently honest, making Mess a very engaging listen from start to finish. Refreshingly, this is not a band who hide behind meaningless lyrics or the trickery of production: what you see is what you get. Exploring the intricacies of human relationships and mental health issues, there’s a melancholy here, but this is tempered by the powerful, positive energy of the music.

Key to the band’s song-craft is the use of dynamics that moves seamlessly between a punk aesthetic, power rock and softer, singer-songwriter moments.

There are highlights throughout, from the cascading guitar hooks of the opening title track right through to the affectingly layered closer, ‘Family’. Camp Cope’s Georgia Maq adds something beautiful to the end of the final song, while also sharing the vocals on ‘Happy’, making that track a standout moment.

This is an album that will make you feel something, but it will also sweep you up and have you singing along.

Mess is out now from Anchorhead/Warner.

Read our interview with the band HERE.

Reviewed by Matthew Trainor