Pitchfork (Website) - "[A] true sequel, another brisk half-hour of barbed power-pop tunes that sting so sweetly that it's only after the fact you consider you might need a tetanus shot."
Personnel: Haley Bonar (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, synthesizer); Jeremy Ylvisaker (electric guitar, synthesizer); Jacob Hanson (electric guitar); Jeremy Hanson (drums, percussion).
Recording information: Pachyderm Studios, Cannon Falls, MN (08/2015).
Photographer: Alec Soth.
Still in her early thirties but with over a decade as a touring musician under her belt by the time of her sixth solo album, Haley Bonar brings a world-weary point of view to Impossible Dream. It's a record that's burdened with doubt in the quest for happiness, along with a certain amount of self-loathing ("I was impossible when I was beautiful"). The lyrics are accompanied by the more robust, indie rock sound she brought to her prior album, 2014's Last War. Fans of that release likely won't be disappointed, as Bonar delivers more well-crafted, catchy gems here. "Kismet Kill" evokes girl groups of another era amid post-punk guitars that rumble under a breezy melody. The song looks back on youth from post-motherhood. The punky drums and guitars of "Called You Queen" veil a lyrical melancholy that has her singing of "a lack of serotonin that shakes your brain." ("Excuse me, sir, do you have a light/I know that I can be dark.") Opening with acoustic guitar and drums, and eventually gathering electric guitars and synths, "I Can Change" is a sparser, more reflective number. The title is both encouraging and cynical in the context of its lyrics. Though open to interpretation, if happiness is the "impossible dream," the album closes with "Blue Diamonds Fall," a jaunty tune in which the protagonist acknowledges "I'm terrified and underpaid." It ends with a repeated -- and loaded -- "You can be whatever you like." These lyrics, Bonar's somewhat sullen delivery, her knack for melodies and phrasing, and the full-band sound she's grown into work together for a set of songs that stick and hold up to repeat plays. ~ Marcy Donelson