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REVIEW: The Hard Aches, Cambridge Hotel, Thursday April 19

BEAUTIFUL MESS: The Hard Aches’ Alex Upton and Ben David.SEVEN songs into The Hard Aches’ energetic set on Thursday night it became clear where the band’s appeal resonates from.
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The Cambridge’s side bar was tightly packed with predominantly young men eager to bounce aroundand shout out their anxieties, frustrations and personal failings.

Vocalist-guitarist Ben David delivered everything they wanted when he launched into the Adelaide indie-punk two-piece’s song I Get Like This.

“But I get like this/When I get f—ked up/Yeah and I get f–ked up/When I get like this,” the crowd sang back passionately. Simple. To the point. And effective.

David spent much of The Hard Aches’ breakthrough 2016 EP I Freak Out addressing his abusive relationshipwithalcohol. Tracks like I Get Like This, I Freak Out and Alcohol and Cigarettesclearly articulated the thoughts of every bloke who haswoken hungover one morning embarrassed by his behaviour the night before.

The Hard Aches’ latest album Mess, released last week, was written to open up discussions about mental health.

It’s mellower and more circumspect than the crunching punk power chord-dominated I Freak Out. The title track, Get Outta My House, Warm Blooded, Terrible Things and Outline were unveiled to favourable, but more subdued,reactions at the Cambridge.

One criticism of The Hard Aches would be the repetitive phrasing of their melodies, which is why the latest single Happy stands out as theirbest work yet. The slow-burning folk track, that features Camp Cope’s Georgia Maq, is heart-felt and tender.

Without Maq to share vocal duties, David invited Antonia Susan from Blue Mountains support act Antonia & The Lazy Susans to accompany him on stage.

It was an astute choice. Susan combined passionately with David and you couldn’t wipe the smile off her face as she high-fived the front row.

“We’ve peaked,” David said. “It ain’t getting better from here.”

That was almost true. But the real peak wasthe night’s 14thand final track. Glad That You’re Gone ignitedthe crowd as theyshouted back David’s lyrics of, “And I plan to be dead and buried/By my mid, my mid-to-late twenties,” turning the morbid line intoone ofnihilistic euphoria.

The Hard Aches continueto soar. After two raucous shows inthe Cambridge Hotel’s side bar in the past year, surely it’s only a matter of time before they’re promoted to the main room.

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