Every Tuesday, Torontoist scours record store shelves in search of the city’s most notable new releases and brings you the best—or sometimes just the biggest—of what we’ve heard in Sound Advice.
Throughout his fifteen-year career, Hayden has been travelling a leisurely path from gravelly grunge-folkie to a more refined folk-pop sound. It’s a transition still in progress, and on The Place Where We Lived, out today on Hardwood Records, Hayden gets a little help from his friends on a fitting next chapter in his ever-expanding sad-boy saga.
Hayden’s recording process has always mirrored his sound: slow, thoughtful, a bit isolated and dark. The Place Where We Lived is the first release since 1998’s The Closer I Get that uses the ear and the stimulus of an outside producer—Toronto’s popsmith Howie Beck—and in turn, this is the fastest album turnaround yet for Hayden. Off-the-floor full-band tracks with long-time tour-backing band Cuff the Duke are the first ear-grabbers here (“Disappear,” complete with hand claps!), but fear not, long-time fans of Hayden’s sober sounds; the stark, hushed piano and vocals are plentiful too, and contribute some of the most striking moments on the album (“When the Night Came and Took Us”). It’s a familiar dynamic, and with the familiar lyrical musings on love gone awry, again (still?), making up the bulk of the fodder for Hayden’s standard ragged anti-melodies, one can’t help but hear the sarcasm dripping off of self-affirming lines like “I’m never lonely” (“Never Lonely”), or to laugh at his calling someone else the sad sack (“Let’s Break Up”).
With ten tracks in under thirty minutes, it’s certainly not a challenging listen for the uncertain. Hayden may not be covering the newest of ground, but fans of his uber-earnest emoting will always find comfort in his sleepy voice and reluctance to get caught up anything fleeting, be it musical trends, or, you know, happiness.