Last month at the Barstool Arizona Bowl a few people (including Taylor Lewan and Will Compton, not a big deal) told me that I looked like the country singer Hardy. Not being a giant country fan I had no idea who they were talking about. But a quick Google search confirmed their suggestions.
You can clearly see the family resemblance. Glasses, great hair, and an impeccable hat collection. So naturally, I gave Hardy a follow on IG and a spin on Spotify.
My first thought was this would be Post Malone if he had stayed country. I also noticed that he had a new album coming out soon that promised to be harder. Over the next few weeks, I heard snippets of the songs and was kind of impressed with what I had heard. Then today the album dropped and I thought to myself, “self, let’s do a Hardy album review from a guy who kinda looks like Hardy.”
WARNING: I am not a country music person so if you want to hear me rip on him for going metal, you won’t get it here. But if you want a true outsider perspective then keep reading.
The album is titled “the mockingbird & THE CROW”. The title alone tells us a lot about this album. The mockingbird is a delightful-sounding bird that simply duplicates the sounds it hears. The crow on the other hand is a dreadful-sounding giant black bird that largely does not give a fuck about the rest of the animal kingdom. I also love the lowercase of mockingbird and all caps of THE CROW. This was done on purpose as the lowercase songs are all straight-up country until halfway through the album where the title track once again has the unique spelling. Then the second half of the album is in all caps. The songs are a blend of country and what we will call “metal” for the sake of this article. Really the genre would be labeled as Post Hardcore but we won’t split hairs.
The country side of the album really didn’t do much for me. It’s pop country and that’s great but unless your name is Frank Vieira it’s not my first choice for music. The two songs I will point out are the first track “beer”. Because here at Thoughts From The Bench, we love beer and this song does too.
The second song is a bit more serious and something that is a throwback to 90’s country. The duet featuring the viral Lainey Wilson is called “wait in the truck”. A haunting tale about a stranger who discovers a woman in distress who has just been physically abused by her significant other. As the song takes you along their night we find out that Hardy’s character takes justice into his own hands and kills the abuser. Lainey’s vocals are absolutely haunting and Hardy’s strength through the song reminds us of a time and style of country that has gone by. This song has over 33 million listens on Spotify and is one worth checking out.
Track nine is where things change. The title track starts off like another country song until 02:45 when we get a giant, “fuck that and fuck you” as Hardy goes into a chorus that sounds more like A Day To Remember than country. Lyrically he talks about his departure from his typical sound and how he has always wanted to make music like this. This song is cool and a neat conceptual piece to this album that ushers in the metal half of the album.
The next song of note is Jack which was the first single on the album. This is maybe the best blend of Metal and Country. The verses are sung in the typical country twang but have a little more aggressive guitar, which leads into an awesome bridge where it sounds like a Nickleback song. Then the chorus goes into an upward driving beat with wailing metal guitars. This song would be at home on just about any rock radio station or rock playlist.
Track 13 may be my favorite experiment since “Collision Course” with Linkin Park and Jay Z. The song is called “RADIO SONG” featuring none other than the aforementioned A Day To Remember frontman Jeremy McKinnon. The two trade parts as Hardy delivers a perfect country radio song that gets rudely interrupted by Jeremy’s hardcore breakdowns and growling vocals. This is not quite “Encore” from Collision Course but it’s still a super cool song and worth a spin.
Track 14 KILL SH!T TILL I DIE is Hardy’s both feet jumping into the pool. If you are looking for something akin to the original A Day To Remember material look somewhere else. This is much closer to what AGD is pumping out now, but all and all I dig this song.
Ultimately I think this album has its place in both worlds. It is a really cool idea and a well-constructed concept album. With the popularity of Machine Gun Kelly’s “Ticket to my Downfall” this kind of experiment makes sense. I don’t know how much mainstream success it will see but I think for fans of the metal or Post Hardcore genre it’s worth spinning. I also think Hardy did enough with songs like “wait in the truck”, “JACK”, and “TRUCK BED” to get him some positive momentum in his second studio album.
It will be interesting to watch where he goes from here. I would also like to make a note as an unapologetic Nickleback fan. This album will greatly appeal to Nickleback fans both proud and closeted.
All in all good job doppelganger. I will be spinning this record a lot once spring hits!