(Charm School) Legendary and heavily influential indie-folk rock artist Hayden has released Are We Good, his hotly anticipated first new album in 8 years, today on Arts & Crafts. Introduced by "East Coast," "Miss Fort Erie," and "On A Beach (feat Feist)," which earned acclaim spanning Stereogum, SPIN, Cool Hunting, Under The Radar, The Line Of Best Fit, BrooklynVegan and more, Hayden's triumphant ninth studio album is a crowning achievement in his well-deep catalog of carefully hewn indie rock, dating back to his debut album Everything I Long For in 1996.
"On A Beach (feat Feist)" was released last month alongside a cinematic, star-studded official video, also featuring the inimitable Leslie Feist with cameos by Matt Berninger of The National and beloved actor Steve Buscemi (who Hayden last worked with on the music for Trees Lounge, Buscemi's 1997 directorial debut). Today, Hayden reveals the stirring love song and album title track "Are We Good" which was co-written with Berninger.
"This song was hanging around for a while with a bunch of mumbled lyrics I had as place-setters," recalls Hayden. "The only line that stuck was the refrain 'are we good.' I sent it over to Matt [Berninger of The National] and he came up with the rest. When I read the lines 'Are you worried about the past, coming back to you too fast, Are you worried about the sea, And what's going on underneath,' I knew I'd sent the song to the right guy."
A meditative and electric tune, "Are We Good" is quintessential Hayden, with unabashed nods to the fluidity of Leonard Cohen and the buzz of Crazy Horse. As the album's namesake, "Are We Good" posits Hayden Desser, peppered and grizzled (by the pandemic or parenting), in an attic studio stand-off with writer's block during early lockdown. The album's eleven songs were written, produced, and mixed predominantly by Hayden at Skyscraper National Park, the attic studio of his Toronto home. A perfect combination of complex family life - he and his wife are parents to a child with developmental disabilities - coupled with the grinding halt of creative inertia, Hayden found himself trying to balance the album on an unachievable ledge of perfection. Breaking from these confines - and a decades-long career defined by his staunchly DIY approach - Hayden made an album richly inspired by collaboration, including the likes of Feist, Aaron Dessner and Matt Berninger of The National, drummer James Krivchenia of Big Thief, and engineer Jonathan Low (Taylor Swift, Big Red Machine).
Eight years in the making, Are We Good is an album dedicated to relationships, and the deep personal entanglements that help define our sense of selves. On Are We Good - an evolutionary album, "the sound of an artist who's been learning how to challenge an aesthetic they've been exploring for 30 years" (sometimes past the point of perfection) - Hayden opened up to new approaches to awaken his storytelling. A statement of permanence that chases the most fleeting of emotions, on Are We Good Hayden proves that reinvention is the greatest reminder of the essence of who you are.