Heartless Bastards are shooting for a fresh start with "Arrow." The band's new album, their fourth studio set, will be their first release for Brooklyn's Partisan Records after three albums on Mississippi indie Fat Possum.
After the emotionally strafed garage-rock of 2009's "The Mountain," the upcoming release represents a personal shift as well.
"'The Mountain' was me going through some things after being in a relationship for nine years," frontwoman Erika Wennerstrom said in a release. "This album is kind of like me being comfortable again."
After "The Mountain" tour, Wennerstrom centered herself with a series of road trips, spending time with friends and relatives in Ohio and Arkansas, catching the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in the Catskills and taking solo jaunts to an Allegheny Mountains cabin and a West Texas ranch.
"It was really nice," she said of the opportunity to relax and reflect. "I didn't feel like I was getting much done, but I realized that a lot of that experience ended up being reflected in the songs."
For the new album, she turned to her touring band, as well as producer Jim Eno (Spoon, Via Audio), rather than opt for a solitary effort. "Arrow" finds the group coalescing as a four-piece, with early collaborators Dave Colvin (drums) and Jesse Ebagh (bass) returning to the fold along with a newcomer, guitarist Mark Nathan.
"I wanted to add another guitar," Wennerstrom said. "So I asked Mark, 'What do you think of joining the band?' and he was into it. I've always planned on being a four-piece, but it just takes a while to find somebody that you feel you click with. I'd rather have it be stripped down than just have somebody there for the sake of having them there."
The result is an album the musician says she's "really, really happy with."
"I feel like this is the strongest record I've ever done," Wennerstrom said. "I feel like playing with these guys, us all being so connected, really helped make it so fully realized."