The latest album from Colorado five-piece The Drunken Hearts was made in what most would call an unconventional way. One day after the band released 2018's "The Prize," the guys headed into the studio and began to make and record a new song each day until they had enough quality content for a new album—and so "Wheels of the City" was born.
The final product is 11 tracks of mountain-man rock that sounds a lot like Eddie Vedder fell into a slow movin' southern groove—and it's actually pretty cool.
One of the biggest wow-moments for me on the album was "Unrest." This signaled a big stylistic switch compared to the four tracks before it. The song itself has this atmosphere that sounds like the band just took over a bar and is playing like their lives depended on it—like they were ready to get out of town and keep dream chasing.
Yearning is an underlying theme that seems to ring out through the album. It doesn't matter what you're really after; The Drunken Hearts have bottled that feeling up and made it totally relatable. The album is telling us that the wheels of the city (or life) don't ever stop—just as the people, places and things in it don't, either. Everything keeps moving. This is detailed strongly on "Passchendaele," a moving story of a veteran coming home to find everything changed, even those he loved most.
There are moments throughout the project where I wish there was a bit more punch and that "Wheels of the City" wasn't entirely as mellow as it is. If there were a few more tempo changes it would help make each individual song stand out from one another and prevent it from feeling like it's all moving at one speed. The contrast to that is "Wheels of the City" sounds much different than any of the band's previous releases, so it was definitely an effort aimed at a new sound.
Overall, the album is a good listen and highlights some of the group's best writing to date. One thing that's clear is that The Drunken Hearts know how to sell a feeling and create a story that's worth listening to. While at times the slowed pace blurs things, "Wheels of the City" is an interesting final product to an experimental recording process—and risk taking is always something to admire.