The Golden Days are Hard
Toronto, ON
RIYL: wearing a Shania Twain shirt to a punk show; Waxahatchee; The Decemberists’ The Crane Wife

Westelaken’s The Golden Days are Hard is both chaotic and patient. Led by Jordan Seccareccia’s trembling voice, the punk-edge of this “post-country” band is at its hardest on “Mercy, ‘milk-of-human-kindness’” which squeals and plods like a fang-toothed beast and on the frantic “Ghosts Explode,” a grungy song that clocks in at under a minute.

Elsewhere, Westelaken nestle their riotousness in softness and are willing to linger in a moment: over nine minutes, Westelaken move from a honky-tonk jam into a distorted frenzy on “The October Song” and opener “The January Song” starts the album off with a surge of energy before, on the latter half of the track, the band slow things down and Seccareccia is practically whispering.

On “Grace,” a piano-led highlight and the band at their most tender, contributing vocalist Rachel Bellone sings of life in the face of death and describes numbness with great precision: “I don’t hate anything anymore but I used to love the morning.” It’s one of many moments on The Golden Days are Hard that emphasizes the clarity Westelaken has when it comes to the stories they want to tell and how they want to tell them.

Laura Stanley